NOSSA champ eyes return to provincials
Hannibal Cull has two goals one personal and one team heading into Thursday's start of the two-day, Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) Track and Field Championships at Jo Forman Track.
The defending NOSSA Senior Boys 3,000-metre champion, is striving to return to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) Championships, slated for June 5-7 in St. Catharines.
Cull is also focused on helping his Sir James Dunn Eagles' teammates repeat as NOSSA coed champions.
"Qualifying for OFSAA is important to me, but I also want to help out the team by getting as many points as I can," said Cull, a six-foot-three, 180-pound, OAC student.
"We won it (the coed crown) last year and I want to to my best for the team."
Cull enters the NOSSA meet with an impressive resume.
He captured Senior Boys' Division individual championship last Wednesday, winning the 800m, 3,000m and steeplechase events for the second straight year at the City High School Track and Field Meet.
Besides grabbing the 3,000m at last year's NOSSA meet, Cull placed second in the 800m and steeplechase, and both of the first-place finishers in those races have since graduated.
Despite that, Cull doesn't see himself as a favourite at any distance this week.
"The competition will be tough, I imagine," he said. "There are a lot of good juniors coming up. But I don't get really anxious before races. I just try to do my best and whatever is going to happen won't be changed by worrying. I just believe you have to run your own race."
Cull's first taste of competition will be Thursday's 3,000m. It's his only race of the day and he's expecting to be fresh for it.
"I just want to run as hard as I can," he said. "I like to start slow and finish hard it doesn't matter if I'm trailing early."
That was the case a year ago when Cull trailed one of his opponents until the third lap. He drew even at that point, and waited to pass until just 600 metres remained.
Noting he doesn't have a lot of speed in the 800m, Cull believes the 3,000m and steeplechase offer his best chance to qualify for provincials.
A year ago at OFSAA, he finished 13th in the 3,000m and 15th in the steeplechase.
"You can't start the steeplechase fast or your legs will be cooked," said Cull, of the 2,000m race, which features 25 jumps. "You have to keep a steady pace throughout and then go hard at the end with whatever you have left."