Sault Stryders
Running Club

Knights star out to repeat
Reported May 28, 2009 by Peter Ruicci for The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Her immediate future settled, Tessa Kasch is left to focus solely on the present.

Namely, this week's Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) track and field meet in North Bay.

The two-day event begins today and Kasch's biggest challenge -- and burning ambition -- is to repeat as the open girls 1,500m steeplechase champion.

The race, which is scheduled for 3:30 p. m. today, is the first track event of this year's meet.

Having recently accepted a scholarship to compete in track, cross-country and soccer at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky., the 18-year-old, St. Mary's College student is determined to find another reason to celebrate.

"I want to repeat as NOSSA champion," said Kasch, who relinquished her city title a week ago to St. Basil's Annie Reader. "I know Annie will be my biggest rival again. She's a great runner and it's going to be a great race."

A year ago, after winning the city steeplechase in 5:55.72, Kasch took NOSSA honours in 5:39.90.

But last Wednesday, Reader, a Grade 9 student, set a new city record by running a 5:53.26.

That topped Kasch, who's in Grade 12, by .16 of a second.

"I thought I ran an okay race at the city meet," said Kasch, who got a slow start this year due to a soccer injury. "I was out all of April with tendinitis in my groin. It's still bothering me a bit -- it's a nagging injury."

Because of it, Kasch said her biggest challenge today will be to hurdle the steeples and not clear them by stepping on top and jumping off.

"Doing it like that slows you down," she said. "But I have to get over the mental hesitation, because of my injury, of not wanting to hurdle the steeple."

Kasch, who won 1,500m and 3,000m at the city meet, called the steeplechase her favourite event.

The reason, she said, is the demands the steeplechase places onto competitors.

"The 3,000m is so boring. But the steeplechase presents more of a challenge with the obstacles," said Kasch, whose goal is to win the 3,000m at NOSSA.

However, she believes Caroline Ehrhardt of Espanola will provide a strong challenge.

As for the 1,500m, Kasch is aiming to place among the top three this week, noting how the race begins a little over two hours after the grueling steeplechase ends.

As for her scholarship, Kasch, who plans to major in accounting, said she can't help but be excited about attending the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school.

"I think it'll be a great experience and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity," said Kasch, who praised her coaches for her track success at St. Mary's.