Gaels’ Osei-Kusi, Ridgebacks' Nauboris crowned Train with Grains champions

Photo by Karyn Stepien
Photo by Karyn Stepien

BURLINGTON, Ont. - Thanks to a combination of food, fitness, and friends, Ontario University Athletics (OUA), in partnership with Grain Farmers of Ontario, crowned the first ever Train with Grains champions – Chris Osei-Kusi from the Queen's Gaels and Kassidy Nauboris from the UOIT Ridgebacks.

Osei-Kusi and Nauboris topped the finalist pool of five male and five female participants that took part in the live Train with Grains finale, capping off a two month long contest that started with online video submissions from university students across the province. By gaining the most video views among their competition, the 10 finalists converged at the University of Guelph on Thursday, wherein a total of $12,000 in grand prizing was awarded to the finalists based on several criteria, including a series of eight fitness-based events.

The first event of the day, the Grain Bag Shuffle, started off the fitness portion with a bang. Ottawa Gee-Gees football player Tommy Detlor, carrying multiple 50 pound grain bags at a time, headlined the men's efforts, while Jill Kettlewell from the Western Mustangs basketball team set the winning pace for the females. The Sled Push saw a similar top result for the latter, as Kettlewell continued her winning ways with the fastest time for the females, while Detlor's fellow footballer Osei-Kusi pushed his way to the top time on the men's side.

Osei-Kusi also found himself atop the Horizontal Ball Throw event, his second win of the day, while Larissa McLeod from the Waterloo Warriors field hockey team tallied the longest toss for the women. The Warriors winning ways continued into the Surge Hold, but this time it was on the men's side, as track and field athlete Jon Halpenny held on the longest to secure top marks. Doing the same for the women was Nauboris, who outlasted her fellow females to claim the crown in the day's fourth event.

The Battling Ropes kicked off the second half of the day, and the finalists delivered even more standout performances therein. Osei-Kusi's time of more than seven minutes paced the men, but no one shone brighter than fellow Queen's Gael Amy Stephenson. The cross country and track runner showed off her endurance on the ropes, surpassing the 10-minute mark and finishing as far and away the top competitor in the fifth fitness challenge. Stephenson would once again reign supreme in the beep test later in the day, showing off her distance running capabilities, while Ottawa Gee-Gees Nordic skier Ezekiel Williams outlasted his male counterparts to take top spot in the event.

While Williams earned his first win in the beep test, it was another first in the Tire Flip, as York Lions Tyrell Mairs flipped his way to the top of the standings. The track and field star made the most of his two minutes with the tire, as did Kettlewell, who maintained her physical prowess in one of the final events of the day.  It wasn't just the purple and white's representative who stood out in the Vertical Jump, meanwhile, as there was three-way tie atop the standings between Kettlewell, McLeod, and Nauboris' top heights. For the men, Osei-Kusi stood – or rather jumped – above the competition, edging out the remaining four competitors who all tied for second.

While these events rounded out the fitness element, the food and friends components were still at play, with the former having some professional input from Team Canada Olympian Krista DuChene. The Olympic marathon runner and registered dietitian weighed in on grain-filled recipes submitted by each finalist to determine which best fit the bill for a balanced and nutritious meal or snack option. The winning recipes were Detlor's Crispy Chicken Burrito Bowl (RECIPE) and the Smoothie Bowl (RECIPE), submitted by Nauboris.

Finally, based on the number of likes, shares, and comments earned throughout the day on their respective Good in Every Grain video posts, the social component of the competition saw Osei-Kusi earn the most overall engagements for the men and McLeod see the most online success for the women, ultimately helping to round out the final scores and help reveal the ultimate Train with Grains winners.

The complete list of final standings and scores can be seen below:

Women:

 

Athlete

School

Fitness

Food

Friends

Total

Prize

1.

Kassidy Nauboris

UOIT Ridgebacks

30

5

3

38

$2,500

2.

Larissa McLeod

Waterloo Warriors

25

3

5

33

$1,500

3.

Amy Stephenson

Queen's Gaels

24

4

4

32

$1,000

4.

Jill Kettlewell

Western Mustangs

29

1

1

31

$500

5.

Georgia Wilder

UOIT Ridgebacks

21

2

2

25

$500

Men:

 

Athlete

School

Fitness

Food

Friends

Total

Prize

1.

Chris Osei-Kusi

Queen's Gaels

33

2

5

40

$2,500

2.

Tommy Detlor

Ottawa Gee-Gees

25

5

3

33

$1,500

3.

Tyrell Mairs

York Lions

24

4

4

32

$1,000

4.

Ezekiel Williams

Ottawa Gee-Gees

24

3

2

29

$500

5.

Jon Halpenny

Waterloo Warriors

20

1

1

22

$500