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HomeAssignmentAnnie Sterenberg helps cross-country team make strides at Mohawk College

Annie Sterenberg helps cross-country team make strides at Mohawk College

The cross-country teams at Mohawk College faced many challenges last year during one of their best seasons.

Sophomore runner Annie Sterenberg earned a bronze medal for the Mountaineers at the 2023 OCAA Championships. The Mohawk Mountaineers women’s cross-country team went on to Nationals (2023 CCAA Championships) where they finished ninth, led by Sterenberg in 24th place.

These wins were hard-won as Sterenberg had kicked off her season by missing the first meet due to illness, but she made a strong recovery and steady improvement, according to coach David Hopton.

“We had a really strong showing, it was our best season in decades for Mohawk. The men won provincials and were ranked number one nationally for most of the season,” Hopton said. “The women were ranked as high as second, but unfortunately our top runner [Sterenberg] had a bad injury, unrelated to running, but it put them out for Provincials. Our women were still able to rally and come third, but they likely would have won if we’d had our whole team there.”

Sterenberg started running for the Mountaineers in the 2021-2022 season and returned in a different academic program for the 2023-2024 season. Currently she is in the General Office Administration program and plans to take the healthcare stream next year. Her goal is to get a job in a medical office, but she plans to stay active in sports.

“I played soccer starting when I was about 4 years old, and played basketball during high school,” Sterenberg said, “I love basketball, but I was scared I’d be too uncoordinated. I didn’t want to land on my face in front of everybody at a game, so I chose running.”

Living in the countryside of Vineland, Ont. doesn’t provide much in the way of a running track.

“There’s no sidewalks, so you’re running on the gravel on the side of the road, or the middle of the road in the winter,” Sterenberg said.

In cross-country running, most of the outdoor courses are different, giving Sterenberg the advantage of familiarity with rougher terrain due to her rural training. She admits it can be isolating as a commuter student because the temptation to just show up for classes and go home right away makes socializing with classmates difficult. As a self-described introvert, cross-country is the perfect team to join.

“Cross-country is a really unique sport in that way,” Hopton said. “It is a team sport more than most running, like track and field is more individual. Whereas I think cross-country, like the team title is more important than the individual title, and that’s our primary goal. That said, it’s not quite the same as team sports. I would say it’s definitely an area that I feel like I’m still developing as a coach, building that team unity.

‘I think it’s something that I’d like to learn from other coaches at Mohawk that are in a team sport environment, that’s a major part of their role and their skill set. But I think in terms of what we did do successfully is we really try to not compete against each other and celebrate each other’s successes.”

Sterenberg pointed to a team activity that they do once a year for fun as a group.

“We participate in the Parkrun at Van Wagners Beach every year,” Sterenberg said, “It’s an event that happens every Saturday, but we only do one run. It’s a 5k and we run it and then go have breakfast at Hutch’s afterwards.”

Parkrun is an organization that holds weekly runs across Canada.

Mohawk Mountaineers' women's cross-country team enjoys donuts at the end of a race.
The women’s team enjoying donuts at the end of a race.

Sterenberg plans to stay on the Mountaineers  next year and coach Hopton has high praise for her progress.

“She ran a really good 1k on the track at the York Open meet,” Hopton said, “She ran a 3:18 for a 1k, which was a best, big best, time. So yeah, she’s running better than ever. She got that individual bronze and helped lead the women to that team bronze, so yeah, she had a really good season.”

Things are looking up for Mohawk Mountaineers’ cross-country teams, with several returning student-athletes to watch and David Hopton being named coach of the year at both the provincial and national levels.

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