By Chris Kelsall
B.C.-based high school athletes may feel they have an advantage over their fellow Canadians when it comes to the National Cross Country Championships taking place in Kingston, Ont. this Nov. 24. Vancouver was hit with unseasonably cool weather at the provincial cross-country championships on Saturday.
RELATED: Race videos and post-race interviews.
With temperatures hovering near 0 C, with wet snow, 993 high school athletes from all corners of the province went head-to-head.
In the senior boy’s race, which was three laps of a 2.3K loop at Jericho Beach, one of the country’s most notable cross-country sites, the Wyatt brothers, Zach and Tate, dictated the pace and ultimately the final outcome. Zach and Tate, who run for R.E. Mountain, finished 1-2, in that order, in 23:17 and 23:18 ahead of the 232 other competitors. In third was Aidan Doherty in a blanket finish as the top three were separated by two seconds.
Oak Bay won the senior boy’s team title with the top-four counting towards a final score, down from the top-five in previous years.
“The idea was to give the smaller schools a fighting chance,” said race director Colin Dignum of the number count towards a team score. “Actually, it seems like it is good for everyone, as the final points are tighter, making for better competition.”
“We wanted to control the pace early and we led throughout, however, I dropped back a little during the second lap,” Zach says. “I then wanted to sit in the pack for a while, before going for the win.”
“I am pretty happy with the result,” Tate says. “We had a tactical plan in advance and I think we executed it well.”
Asked which length of spikes the twins used, Zach said 9 mm, while Tate said 7 mm. The two chuckled at the notion that Tate finished second because his spikes were shorter. It may have to do with leading the whole way.
B.C. club youth champion Jack Amos was not permitted to compete because he did not reside in the province long enough ahead of the race after moving from the Yukon, according to Oak Bay News.
November 4, 2017. Jericho Park, Vancouver. Feel free to share and tag for personal use with credit given. Any other use…
In the senior girl’s race, the highly anticipated duel in the snow between Oak Bay’s Justine Stecko and New Westminster’s Grace Fetherstonhaugh looked like it was on during the first lap of the two-lap race. Stecko pushed the pace to begin the final lap and into the hillier section of the course building up a sizeable gap by the finish. Fetherstonhaugh finished second in 17:23 behind Stecko’s 17:01.
Congrats to @justinestecko on a dominating performance at BC highschool XC championships today! This young lady is a talent- I’m excited to see what the future holds for her! So awesome seeing hundreds of kids out toughing it out & running so well in the cold & snow this morning on a challenging course! Our next generation of XC athletes are looking very promising!!! #bchighschoolXC #crosscountryrunning #nextgeneration @bc.athletics @athleticscanada
Ceili McCabe of Little Flower Academy – an independent school located in Vancouver – was third in 17:25.
Stecko, who was concerned about her performance from last week at the B.C. Club Championships, said, “I think I was expecting too much of myself last week. Today I ran in control and waited for the second lap to start before pushing the pace.”
McCabe, a multi-sport athlete, had a soccer game on Saturday after the race. She also plays basketball. “I don’t run competitively, but I would like to join a club and get into the club scene and see how I do there,” she says.
Oak Bay School won the senior girl’s team race.
In the junior boy’s race, Matti Erickson finished first in an epic battle with another in the long line of talented Heistermans (Keaton) of Nanaimo. Erickson finished in 17:26, while Heisterman crossed the line in 17:35.
“I wasn’t going to race this year, but I am glad I did,” Heisterman says. “I am pretty happy with the result.”
Point Grey’s Judah Moar was third in 17:40. Kitsilano won the junior boy’s team battle.
Just two seconds separated Anna Maslechko of West Point Grey Academy, who finished the junior girl’s race in 18:00. In second was Madelyn Bonikowsky of South Delta. Kate Stewart-Barnett of St. Thomas More Collegiate finished third in 18:08.
Nanaimo District triumphed as the junior girl’s team winner.
Results can be found at Race Day Timing.