By Darren Lum
Published Nov. 7 2017
Red Hawks cross-country coach Russ Duhaime couldn’t be prouder of his runners Isaac Little and younger cousin Alex.
They are strong runners and great people he said.
“They’re really young adults. Both of these guys. They’re high quality athletes. Kids that I love to coach. They support each other a great deal and challenge each other too which is a big deal” he said.
During COSSA when Isaac learned his cousin had earned a trip to OFSAA in the race before his it drove him to make the all-provincials. The last time a Hawks runner competed at OFSAA was in 2004 when Sean Keaney finished 90th in a field of more than 200.
Isaac said he had a poor start attributed to slipping at the beginning.
The slip put him in 15th place in the first kilometre. After the first kilometre he began to reel in runners as fatigue set in for his competitors. When he recognized a runner who made it to OFSAA last year he used him for motivation.
“I just knew I wanted to beat him and catch him so within the last two kilometres of the race I ended up passing him and finished in eighth position – fifth individual – to qualify for the last individual position” he said.
His expectations for OFSAA are realistic he said. Many of these runners only train to run competitively. He hopes to finish in the top third of the field which could be as high as 300 runners.
Isaac a competitor from last year said the large team this year was a definite advantage as they provided support and motivation.
Alex laughed about not wanting to go to OFSAA alone when he first learned he was going . The pair said they are looking forward to sharing this experience. Duhaime points out a shoulder injury kept Alex from participating in the invitationals. However as proof of his character Alex maintained his fitness to be ready for Kawartha.
Alex made sure to credit the team for making him feel comfortable and he is proud about earning his first all-provincial trip on his first high school team.
“Teammates really helped me – first year in high school. [The teammates] really pushed. The coaching was really great” he said.
Alex admits he missed the first team tryout but with the large team there was “enough noise” that it alerted him to the opportunity to compete in cross country.
In the COSSA race Alex looked for competitors who beat him at Kawartha and made sure to stay with them. He wasn’t able to pass them but stayed within striking distance and finished fifth.
Just like the running strategy his expectations are similar to his older cousin’s.
“I just want to finish the race and be happy with how I run trying my best” he said grinning.
Isaac thanked his coaches Russ Duhaime and Kyra Cockwell and consultant Catherine Andress.
After a brief hiatus for the cross country team Duhaime resurrected the team last year Isaac said.
“It was really great because all throughout elementary school and [middle] school I did cross-country and loved it but I was told there wouldn’t be a team [at HHSS]. To have coach Duhaime start up a team for us is just awesome and having coach Cockwell come out … she volunteered her time. She never missed a practice. She was here every time. Every morning. It was fantastic” he said. “Both our coaches really pushed us. Also [Catherine] Andress as well. She came out to almost every practice if not every practice. It was encouraging to have adults come out and support us and really push us to be our best.”
Duhaime will retire from teaching after this year and so getting to see two of his runners go to the top meant a lot to him. Their all-provincial berths is proof that effort is rewarded.
“It shows that hard work really pays off” he said.