After a focused push on training earlier this season, the Airdrie Ace Athletic Club cross-country team finally sprinted to competition Sept. 30.
According to Aces president and cross-country coach Jodie Matsuba-Szucs, the focus on training was to ensure the team came into the season in a condition to dominate.
“We pushed back our first competition date deliberately to get a solid six weeks of running in before our first competition,” Matsuba-Szucs said. “They were fit and they were ready.”
Five Aces athletes competed in the event at Red Deer College, which was held in conjunction with the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC)’s Running Room Grand Prix #4.
All five athletes medaled; including Bobby Rodgers, who earned gold by finishing the three-kilometre (km) race with a 14.21 run and Willem Grant who took bronze in the same race with a time of 14.52.
Matsuba-Szucs said both young athletes started their race a little to quick out of the gate, but finished strong.
Team captain Aiden Good averaged 3.39 minutes per km in the boys’ grades 10/11 four-km race, earning a bronze with a time of 15.13.
The Aces wrapped up the day when Michael Stewart and Rudy Buchanan competed in the Grade 11/12 six-km race. In addition to running alongside boys their own age, the race featured university- and college-level women competing for the ACAC portion of the race, resulting in a 100-person field.
In his first year of cross-country competion, Stewart walked away with a bronze in his first race.
Matsuba-Szucs said Stewart has picked up the sport quickly, shown great dedication and was named the Quest Orthodontics Athlete of the Meet.
“(Dedication) is an expectation I have, but you can’t teach that to an athlete – either they’re dedicated or they’re not,” Matsuba-Szucs said. “Michael is definitely dedicated, all of my group is dedicated and that’s why they are doing so well.”
Buchanan also enjoyed a successful event finishing 10th with a time of 25.30.
The Aces now prepare for a week of hard training before turning its attentions to the Rocky View Sports Association cross-country divisional zones in Sundre on Oct. 11.
Matsuba-Szucs said she has high hopes for her competitors as they prepare for zones and the likelihood of competition in the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association Provincial Championships later in the month.