Ace takes top spot at ASAA cross-country championship

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Airdrie Aces runner Aiden Good more than lived up to his surname Oct. 20, when he won the junior men’s division of the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) cross-country championship. 

In a field including 129 runners from across Alberta, the 16-year-old took home the ASAA gold medal after finishing the four-kilometre race at Vermillion Provincial Park in 14:07. 

“It felt pretty good as I crossed the line,” said Good, a Grade-11 student at Hugh Sutherland School in Carstairs. “Of course, I was tired after four kilometres, but to come across the line in first felt good – it was a little bit of a surprise.”

While he said it wasn’t the most challenging course he’s competed on, Good noted the Vermillion Provincial Park route was still one of the harder routes he’s run this season. The course included a steep downhill and uphill climb within the first kilometre, he said, followed by a few rolling hills.

“It started out pretty flat for the first 200 metres (m), then it took a sharp downhill and then right back up again, so the first kilometre was pretty challenging,” he said. “As soon as you started kilometre three, it went right down into the river valley. 

“With about 600 m to go, there was a really long hill, so that was challenging, and then a flat 300 m to finish.”

Good said he stayed with the front five runners for the first kilometre, before he and Calgary runner Martin Undheim of Bishop Carroll High School managed to pull away from the pack. The two battled it out until kilometre three, according to Good, before he was able to take the lead on the final stretch. 

“Up that hill, with about 700 or 800 m to go, that’s when I passed him,” he said. 

Though Undheim dropped to seventh place before crossing the finish line, the final pack of runners came in only seconds behind Good. His closest competitor – Tofik Said of Edmonton’s Eastglen High School – finished in 14:18. The top seven all finished within 14:30.

“Those first 10 guys, we were all close together,” Good said. “I think 10th place would have been under 15 minutes, as well.”

Airdrie Aces president and long-distance running coach Jodie Matsuba-Szucs said she wasn’t surprised Good performed so well at the provincial meet. Even though his specialty for track and field is the 800-m, Matsuba-Szucs said the middle-distance runner excels during the cross-country season, as well. 

“[Good] is a strong runner and he puts a lot of miles in, so I had no doubts he would do well,” she said. 

The club will conclude its cross-country season Nov. 3. Following that, Aces runners will shift their focus towards the 2018-19 indoor track-and-field season. 

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