Koskenoja Prepares for OFSAA
By BILL MONTAGUE, The Sault Star, May 31, 2001

Viktoria Koskenoja learned a valuable lesson the last time she competed at an Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Association event. Quitters never prosper.

The 15-year-old distance runner from White Pines collegiate is still haunted by her decision to drop out of the OFSAA cross-country running championships this season and she's looking to make up for that now.

While saying she won't put any pressure on herself to finish in the top half of the field, Koskenoja says she'll do no such quitting when the OFSAA track and field championships get under way today in Etobicoke.

She heads into the event as the midget girls Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association champion after winning the gold medal in the 1,500 and 3,000-metre events and placing second in the 800 metres.

This time, Koskenoja is hoping her date with OFSAA doesn't end like before when she dropped out of the cross-country race two-thirds through for no apparent reason.

``I have no idea what was going on,'' Koskenoja said. ``I was so upset. Once I stopped, I said `what are you doing?' but it was too late by then. I know I can do better now and I won't be scared this time.''

Koskenoja, who also competes in cross-country skiing, has made huge strides in just her first season of competitive running.

She runs cross-country in the fall, does cross-country skiing in the winter and track and field in the spring. She's also a member of Ontario's cross-country ski team.

``This kid works really hard every day and she'll go out there and do more than you ask for,'' said White Pines distance coach Dave Hayman. ``With Viktoria, you have to make sure she doesn't do too much because she really likes to push herself.''

With the field always really competitive at OFSAA, Hayman said the only thing he wants from Hayman is a personal best.

``It's her first year at OFSAA (track and field) so this is going to be a learning experience for her,'' he said. ``We're not going in with high expectations. We just want to meet some personal goals.''

Aside from the pressure of her peers, Koskenoja feels a little bit of pressure from within her own household. Her brother, Tyler, won a gold medal in the midget boys' javelin event last season and is considered a medal threat this year.