OFSAA cross-country championships coming soon
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Convenors of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) 2017 Cross-country Championships toured the venue site at the Petawawa Golf Club on Aug. 2. In the photo are members of the organizing committee (left to right) Rick Schroeder, Cathy Schroeder, Steve Bauernschmitt, Victory Cleary, J.P. Sauve and Gary Serviss.
GARRISON PETAWAWA - With the provincial cross country championships three months away, organizers are putting in place the final preparations for hosting high schools from across Ontario.
The Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) cross country championships will be held at the Petawawa Golf Club on Saturday, Nov. 4. Recognized as one of the three largest cross-country races in North America, OFSAA is rivaled only by the New York and California state championships in terms of size and competitiveness.
“We'll have some of the best runners in North America competing,” explained event co-covenor and Valour High School cross country coach Rick Schroeder. “It's pretty elite.”
On Wednesday, the OFSAA championships committee toured the site as it continues to iron the final details for this major sporting event which is coming to Renfrew County for only the third time. More than three years ago, a bid was launched by a partnership under the Upper Ottawa Valley High School Athletic Association (UOVHSAA) that included Valour, Fellowes High School, Jeanne Lajoie Catholic High School and Madawaska Valley District High School.
For the community, this will be a big step in terms of convincing the provincial sporting body to bring more events to like to this to the region. Petawawa has hosted three Eastern Ontario championships as well as the annual county cross-country meet.
“Renfrew County has some of the best cross-country courses in Ontario,” added Schroeder. “When it's all is said and done this will be one of the premier courses. It's really challenging terrain and it's just the perfect place to hold a cross-country race.”
The OFSAA championship is anticipated to attract 1,800 runners, as well as another 5,000 coaches, volunteers and spectators, from 20 different districts. The race will see 250 runners compete in seven divisions, midget boys and girls (Grade 9), junior boys and girls (Grade 10), senior boys and girls (Grade 11-12) and a para category. Prior to that Petawawa will be hosting a pre-OFSAA race on Friday, Oct. 6 with an anticipated 800 to 1,500 runners participating.
“Any hardcore schools that want to vy for medals and championships will be here,” said Schroeder. “It will be a good dry run for us to make sure everything goes smoothly and make adjustments as necessary.”
The Petawawa Golf Club venue is actually better suited for such an event that other places that have hosted the provincials, organizers contend. The furthest parking lot is 250 metres making its very spectator-friendly. Schroeder noted that in some past championships they've had to park and be bused to the venue, a journey that sometimes took an hour.
The committee has also been securing sponsorships from individuals, organizations and businesses. It's estimated to cost up to $50,000 to run the event. The majority of the expenses incurred include equipment rentals, metal control fencing, snow fencing, tents, four-wheeled support vehicles, golf carts, communications and timing systems, as well as a long list of miscellaneous stores that the county's high schools normally don't carry. The payoff is anticipated to be $2 million in economic spin-offs through hotels and meals by the visiting teams.
“It should be a pretty good economic boom for the community,” noted Schroeder.
OFSAA will be a source of pride for Valour, who have captured two provincial boys cross-country championship titles in the last five years. In 2012, General Panet made history becoming the first male cross-country team from a Renfrew County high school to capture a provincial championship. As Valour, the school repeated the feat in 2014.