Yukon navigates to nine medals at nationals

Yukon orienteerers aren't used to making a wrong turn only to face an impassable brick wall. They more often follow maps through forests than urban settings.

Yukon orienteerers aren’t used to making a wrong turn only to face an impassable brick wall. They more often follow maps through forests than urban settings.

But an urban setting on a complex university campus didn’t prevent three Yukoners from winning hardware in every race at the Canadian Orienteering Championships in Hamilton, Ont., over the weekend.

Juniors Kendra Murray, Trevor Bray and senior Nesta Leduc all won medals in all three distances.

“As Yukoners, we don’t get on sprint maps too much,” said Bray. “To have good sprint shows there’s been a lot of improvement over the summer and my training plan is working out really well.

“It was easy to get trapped by walls – impassable walls and fences. So the course setting was really well done.”

Bray placed second in the sprint, and was third overall in the middle and long distance, but second for Canadians, for three silvers in total in the men’s 17-20 division. The 18-year-old competed for Team Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships the last two years, but wasn’t happy with his performance at the junior worlds in the Czech Republic in July.

“I was really happy with my results,” said Bray of his performance over the weekend. “Last year I got three bronze in the 17-20 category. This year it was three silver, so things are looking good.

“I didn’t have the greatest races in the summer, so it was nice to have some good races here at nationals.

“Things didn’t work out well in the summer, and having three solid races really boosted my confidence.”

For the third year in a row, Murray won two gold and a silver in the women 17-20 division at the championships.

She was less pleased with the urban sprint held at McMaster University. She placed third overall, but was second for Canadians, to take silver.

“I was really happy with the long and the middle (distances), the middle in particular,” said Murray. “I was fairly happy with the long as well, there were just a few silly mistakes.

“I wasn’t that happy with the sprint … I hadn’t been on a street map in a long time. So I wasn’t really expecting the sprint to be amazing.”

Murray also competed at the junior worlds for Canada on a seven-person team with a total of four Yukoners on board, including Bray. At the junior worlds Murray cracked the top-100 in every race and was the top Canadian in each.

“It was amazing terrain, really fun, lots of contoured details,” said Murray of the forest races in Hamilton. “It was really well organized as well, so it was just a really good event.”

Leduc won triple gold at the nationals for women 80-84. It was the first time she accomplished the sweep since the 2010 and 2009 national championships. Leduc won two bronze at the World Masters Orienteering Championships in Italy this year.

Bray had some stiff competition in the men 17-20 category, and from his Yukon teammates as well.

Yukon’s Leif Blake placed eighth in the sprint, fifth in the middle (fourth for Canadians) and seventh in the long.

In the same division Yukon’s Caelan McLean ran to ninth in the sprint and middle.

Yukon’s Sabine Schweiger finished in the top-10 in every race for women 45-54. She was fifth in the sprint, 10th in the middle and ninth in the long.

Elite men’s competitor Forest Pearson, who won all three races of the Yukon championships this summer, placed 10th in the sprint, 26th in the middle and 12th in the long.

Yukon’s Lara Melnik placed 12th in the sprint, 14th in the middle and 13th in the long for women 45-54.

Other top-20 results for Yukoners include Darren Holcombe 13th in the middle distance for men 45-54, Erik Blake 16th in the sprint and 14th in the middle for men 55-64 and Bruce McLean 14th in the middle for men 55-64.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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