Meet two ACXC podium contenders from the west coast

This weekend are the ACXC championships. We get to know two BC women looking to make the podium in the U20 and U18 races this Saturday.

November 22nd, 2018 by | Posted in The Scene | Tags: , , , , , ,

This weekend the Athletics Canada cross-country championships take place in Kingston, Ont. With the weather forecasted to be a few degrees and rainy, the west coast athletes making the trek to Fort Henry should feel right at home. Two of those west coast athletes toeing the line looking for podium finishes this Saturday are Taryn O’Neill and Kendra Lewis, in the U20 and U18 races respectively. Canadian Running caught up with both of them to see how they are feeling ahead of the race and learn a bit more about these rising Canadian stars.

RELATED: ACXC U20 predictions with Max Turek


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O’Neill is the fastest U20 3,000m woman in Canada this year and capped off a great track season this summer with a 10th place finish at the World U20 Championships. She has since started her schooling at Villanova University, and recently finished 174th at the NCAA cross-country championships.

The top 6 finishers on Saturday will be selected to represent Canada at the world cross-country championships in March, and O’Neill knows her work is cut out for her. “There’s good competition this year. The goal this weekend is to try and make the worlds team. I’m not happy with how this season has turned out, so I’m hoping to scrape by in the top 6.”

Reflecting on her NCAA debut, O’Neill didn’t mince words: “Personally, I was quite disappointed. I didn’t know what to expect of myself, but it definitely wasn’t 174th. It wasn’t a good reflection of how I’ve been doing this year.”

RELATED: Canadian winter toughness on display in Vernon, B.C.

Get to know Taryn:

What do you enjoy most about cross-country?

Taryn: I love cross because it’s gritty. You can’t just be fit, you have to be tough. Hills, mud, and horrible weather make it what it is, and I love to embrace that. Down in the US, they do it a little different, and I’m getting sick of golf courses.

What do you miss most about being in Canada?

Taryn: I think the biggest difference for me is between the east and west coast rather than Canada or America. I haven’t been homesick, but I do miss the mountains and outdoorsy people out west. And I guess I should say, my family.

What does success look like for you?

Taryn: a good balance between running and everything else I do. I have so many other interests, so I am most proud of myself when I can juggle everything while prioritizing running.

Kendra Lewis has been on a hot streak this cross-country season, winning the provincial high school and club championships, each by 30 seconds. She also knows what it’s like to win in a city called Kingston, taking gold for Canada in the 1,500m at the U18 International in Kingston, Jamaica this summer. Lewis took a leveled approach in describing her feelings ahead of this weekend’s race: “I’m excited to race against some tough competition and leave it all out there! Of course, I’m hoping to place well, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I feel ready for what could be quite the battle.”

RELATED: B.C. Cross-Country High School Championship results

Get to know Kendra:

What does your race-day routine look like?

Kendra: I try to stay as relaxed as possible and to think positively. I focus on going out there to have fun, rather than pressuring myself too much with one specific goal. A big part of this is listening to music to get my adrenaline flowing and help me visualize the race. Right before my race, I’ll also take a moment to reflect on what I’ve worked for.

What do you enjoy most about cross-country?

Kendra: the best part is the sense of freedom when running on a trail versus running circles around a track. For me, cross-country serves as a reminder to why I fell in love with running in the first place. I just wish the season wasn’t so short!

RELATED: ACXC senior predictions with Speed Goggles