Even before the race started, running partners Caleigh Bachop, Madelyn Brunt, Brittany King and Megan Kinghorn found each other. With Miryam Bassett of Nanaimo, the crew formed a lead pack, as they usually do, and jumped out ahead of the 4.5-kilometre high school cross country championships course at Beaver Lake.
No one noticed Desirae Ridenour, a Grade 9 student from Mill Bay’s George Bonner Middle School.
“We took our group out pretty hard, we didn’t see (Ridenour) at the beginning of the race,” said Bachop, a Grade 12 student from Mount Douglas secondary.
“We were running our usual race, but on the second hill (Ridenour) took off. We all thought ‘who is that?’ but I wasn’t feeling it for a push. We didn’t say anything, we just let her go.”
Ridenour went on to win the race, 16 seconds ahead of Bachop (second) and 19 seconds ahead of Bassett (third), who is last year’s champion.
Brunt, of the Oak Bay High champion girls team, finished fourth, while King and Kinghorn, of Spectrum Community school, slipped to seventh and eighth.
Word on the street is that Ridenour is the younger sister of Christine Ridenour, a former Canada Summer Games triathlon champion and national team member who transfered from UVic to the University of Guelph this fall.
“I had never seen (Ridenour) before, she ripped it up out there,” Bachop said.
The Mount Doug girls team finished fifth and missed the cut for provincials, just a few points behind Campbell River high.
Bachop will attend as the only girl from Mount Doug, a contender for top spot.
“It’s too bad we can’t go to Prince George as a team, we were so close,” Bachop said.
The middle distance specialist will return as a go-to member of Mount Doug’s track and field team this spring. She won the provincial 800-metre club championship in the summer and is weighing her post secondary options for 2013. That includes the possibility of joining the Vikes, which would follow in her dad Steve’s footsteps.
Steve competed for Esquimalt High before setting the Vikes’ indoor 800m record, which he holds to this day.
Bachop isn’t going it alone in Prince George. She joins the Mount Doug boys team, which finished fourth, and her elite high school track and field teammates.
“Brunt, King and Kinghorn and I all go back and forth every race and they are highly fit right now,” Bachop said. “It will be a tough race.”
Now that they know about Ridenour, the crew can keep an eye on her just as they’ll be hoping to keep Kayla Stone of Vancouver and Regan Yee of Hazelton (north of Smithers) within reach.