Local Sports - Limited by a back injury a year ago, Matt Cuddy has something to prove in Friday's Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association Cross-Country Championships.
The one-day event begins at 10:30 a.m. at Kinsmen Park.
"I want to redeem myself," said Cuddy, a Sir James Dunn runner, who won last week's Junior Boys' Division title in the city meet, but finished a disappointing seventh in last year's Northern Ontario finals.
After compressing two vertebrae in his back while bicycle motocross (BMX) jumping, Cuddy resumed his training last year just five days before he won the city's Midget Boys' crown. But his conditioning wasn't up to par for NOSSA.
"I want to do a lot better this year at NOSSA," said Cuddy, 15, Grade 10 student. "I really want to help pull the team into the OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) championships. I want to repeat our performance from city at NOSSA."
That would include a first-place finish for Cuddy individually and a first for SJD's Junior Boys' team.
SJD coach Pat Sanderson loves Cuddy's dedication to the sport.
"His work ethic is excellent," said Sanderson, whose boys' team combined for a NOSSA title a year ago. "He's one of our younger runners, but he's a team leader. Sometimes you have to tel him to slow down."
While Cuddy knows he'll face tough competition, he says he's determined and plans to "run as hard as I can."
A cross-country skier, Cuddy, ranked No. 1 in Ontario among midget boys in 2001 and tops provincially among 14-year-olds last year, is looking forward to anything other than perfect weather Friday.
The Midget Girls' 3-kilometre race kicks things off Friday. The Midget Boys' 5k (11 a.m.), Junior Girls' 4k (11:30 a.m.), Junior Boys' 6k (12:15 p.m.), Senior Girls' 5k (12:45 p.m.) and Senior Boys' 7k (1:15 p.m.) follow.
Top performers advance to the OFSAA championships Nov. 1 in Renfrew.