Mick Jagger has musically observed, you can't always get what you want.
But Tillsonburg Gemini Devin Nicholson got what he needed from the WOSSAA senior boys cross country championship race Thursday at London's Springbank Park.
"I didn't think I ran very well," he said Friday at Glendale of his third-place finish. "But I still qualified (for OFSAA).
"OFSAA is next, so I can run better there," added Nicholson, who very much believes physical performance is linked to mental approach. "It's a mindset."
"That (OFSAA) was the goal, right from day one," said Gemini co-coach Lloyd Renken. "Well," Renken amended, "after he won his first race."
Nicholson's performance highlighted a double-digit Tillsonburg contingent. Brittany Bell had the next-highest finish, crossing the line 18th in the midget girls event.
"Which is a great race for her," credited Renken.
Olivia Kyriakopoulos was 38th in the same race; Kiera Moylan 25th in junior girls; and Alessandro Palermo crossed the line 35th in midget boys event with compatriot Adam Fardella nine places back. The Gemini fielded a team in senior boys with Nick Bartsch 80th, Taylor Renken and James McNeil tied for 104th and Brendan Lowrie-Dennis 144th overall.
Third might not have been Nicholson's target heading into Thursday's regional championship, but even he had to admit it was far from a shabby result for a Grade 11 student in a deep, experienced field.
"I know," he agreed, "I'm just hard on myself."
Nicholson's frustration was rooted in the fact that final position aside, he felt he didn't run his best race, a goal he has set for this coming Saturday.
"I just want to run the best I have all year. If I stay in the top, I stay in the top, but I just want to run the best I can."
Coach Renken echoed Nicholson's approach, of running well.
"And let the results take care of themselves."
"I'm going in there to perform as well as I can, but I'm expecting to do ever better next year," said Nicholson, who potentially has two additional years of eligibility.
OFSAA is scheduled for Saturday, November 2 at Laurentian University in Sudbury.
Renken anticipates a senior boys field featuring over 200 of the best runners in the province.
"There will be some very talented runner there," he said. "A top 10 finish would be an outstanding accomplishment for Devin."
"I think it's going to be a really cool experience," Nicholson concluded, noting his qualification to Ontario's high school cross country provincial finals is the first for Glendale in many years. "I just want to represent our school well."