By Ryan Cooke
SUMMERSIDE - With looming uncertainty hanging over his academic year, Connor McGuire has turned his focus to his athletics.
The Summerside native and St. Francis Xavier runner is gearing up for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Track and Field Championships next month at the University of Alberta.
McGuire is coming off a win at a McGill meet two weeks ago in which he set a personal best time in the 3000-metre, an event he has yet to lose this season.
There should be no surprises for the 22-year-old, who prides himself on being a meticulous planner.
"I've raced all these guys for the past few years," he said. "Everyone knows everyone at that level, and we all know what we can do. I won't be surprised with who is going to run well and who will be at the back of the pack."
McGuire has had some extra time to prepare as of late, with the ongoing strike at St. F.X. keeping him out of the classroom. However, the strike hasn't been something he's enjoyed.
"It's horrible. For everyone. You're used to having a set schedule and going to classes here and doing this here. But now there's so much free time. It hurts everyone. I don't enjoy it to be honest, and I don't think anyone does."
Free time is not something McGuire is used to. He is the St. F.X. pre-med society president, a science counsellor, a representative of the student-athlete leadership team, a volunteer for L'Arche and the Tim Hortons smile campaign, a volunteer researcher and a student tutor.
All of these accolades piled up to earn him the 2012 CIS Student-Athlete Community Service Award earlier this season.
With his focus now turned towards earning some awards on the track, the strike has caused somewhat of a distraction, he said.
"It sucks because a lot of our team is either gone home or gone away for a while, so the training group is a lot smaller."
McGuire will have to get used to not having his team around. Being the only member of the St. F.X. track and field squad to crack the finals, he doesn't think he'll feel any added weight on his shoulders.
"I hope not," McGuire laughs. "I don't want too much pressure on me."
Ranked sixth heading into the 3000m, McGuire plans to be in the thick of things down the stretch, putting heat on the top-ranked runners in the country.
"Hopefully I'll be right there in the mix when the last lap comes around. We'll see what happens then."