Reported October 21, 2004 by Bill Montague for The Sault Star
Rocky Robitaille was getting ready to be the recipient of a good-old butt-kicking Wednesday afternoon but then his competitive instincts kicked in and he wasn't going to have any part in it.
Despite limited training this season and nearly being kicked off the St. Mary's Knights cross-country running team, Robitaille mustered up the strength to capture his fifth City High School cross-country running title, this time outdistancing James Campbell in the senior boys race.
The talented Robitaille finished the seven-kilometre run in 25 minutes, 10.89 seconds, just ahead of Campbell, who crossed in 25:24.93 seconds. Placing third was SJD's Peter Lachowsky in 25:58.27 seconds.
For Robitaille, the victory was even sweeter because of some of the recent adversity he's had to endure and the hype surrounding some of his opponents.
"I just about got kicked off the team because I was doing dryland training for hockey instead of this," said a jubilant Robitaille, just seconds after crossing the finish line. "I thought Campbell was going to beat me because he's beaten me in track and field before (the 1,500-metre run) and I haven't been training like I normally do.
"In fact, I thought he was going to kick my butt."
Campbell, from Sir James Dunn, ran a spirited race in which he and Robitaille battled repeatedly for the lead. After running most of the race neck and neck, Campbell jumped out to the lead on the second last hill and was trying to make his move but Robitaille refused to surrender.
"I thought I had a chance and I knew it would be between me, Campbell and Matt Cuddy," Robitaille said. "James and I ran neck-and-neck the whole race and then he took off on the second last hill but I was able to boot past him on the last hill.
"Other than that, we were together the whole race."
The win was especially meaningful to Robitaille because it marked his final cross-country race in the city action. He has been dominant throughout his career, winning titles in every season and was hoping to go out a winner.
"I'm just happy to win my last cross country race in high school," Robitaille said. "It means a lot to me to be able to win this, even though I'm not in the best of shape."
In junior boys action, Reg Peer from SJD turned in a brilliant performance, narrowly beating John Harvey from St. Mary's in a race to the wire in the six-kilometre event. Peer crossed in 22:29.17 seconds followed by Harvey in 22:29.66 seconds. Joey Lachowsky from SJD was third in 23:09.58 seconds.
In midget boys action, Domink Graf from SJD turned in a solid first-place finish in the five-kilometre race, crossing in 18:31.06 followed by St. Basil's David Christenson (20:25.39 seconds) and SJD's Dean Lamming (20:30.86 seconds).
In team action, the Dunn's senior boys squad finished first followed by Korah and Bawating and, in junior action, St. Mary's won the boys division followed by Korah and SJD.
In midget boys action, it was SJD winning the title followed by Korah.
In girls' team results, SJD won the senior division followed by White Pines and St. Mary's.
In the junior girls' division, Korah finished first followed by Sir James Dunn and White Pines collegiate.
In midget girls' action, SJD finished first followed by Korah and Bawating.
The Eagles also ran away with the co-ed aggregate championship, although the final tally was not available from race officials.