Even the first-place finishers had to wipe mud off their faces as they crossed the finish line at last week’s Vancouver Island High School Cross Country Championships at Beaver Lake.
Cowichan Bay star Desirae Ridenour won the senior girls title while Oak Bay’s Tyler Dozzi won the boys.
Saanich was well represented with two third-place finishes, Hannah Henry of the Mount Douglas Rams in the senior girls and Kalum Delaney of the Reynolds Roadrunners in the senior boys.
The race drew hundreds of competitors as it was a qualifier for the provincial cross-country championships on Saturday (Nov. 5) in West Kelowna. However, it was also an oddly placed time, as many of the top athletes headed to the club team provincials in Nanaimo on Oct. 29, three days later.
“It is a big race, you get excited for it, so it’s too bad that a lot of the top racers today that I was running with were not running full out because of the club provincials were so close,” said Delaney, who trains with most of the top teens in a Bruce Deacon-coached group.
Delaney, in Grade 11, was among the many elites who ran a controlled race. He was not going to put out the extra effort he would have needed to catch Dozzi, though Delaney had beaten Dozzi in the final race of the Lower Island cross-country season one week earlier, he said.
Delaney was part of the senior boys team that finished second overall at the Islands with J.J. Carr-Canning, Evan Wills and Sergio Duran.
Reynolds teacher and cross-country coach Brad Cunningham said a podium finish at Islands should project for a top-five finish at provincials for Delaney, and certainly a top-10.
“You never know, sometimes the Island top three finish the same at provincials, it just depends on the year, but we have big hopes for Delaney,” said Cunningham.
As a Grade 10 in the 2015 provincial championship, Delaney finished second in a photo finish. So while he will be among the lead pack this year, Delaney is on track for a title shot in 2017.
One factor that comes into play is Jack Stanley. The Grade 12 student from Oak Bay secondary was actually the favourite to win the Island championship but an injury forced Stanley to lightly run and walk the six-kilometre course. Instead of being first, Stanley finished last. It took him 44 minutes and 32 seconds, double Dozzi’s winning time of 22:01.
Mount Douglas’ Hannah Henry was third amongst the senior girls, the top Saanich finisher at the Island championship for the second year in a row. Last year Henry finished second at Islands, and third at provincials. But other commitments have kept Henry from training for the four-kilometre race.
“With the world triathlon championships [last month] I haven’t really had a lot of time to focus on cross-country so I’m happy with my result,” said Henry.
Henry was 12th overall among junior elites at the World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel.
The only other Saanich athlete in the senior girls top-10 this year was St. Andrew’s regional school’s Bridget Mateyko at eighth. It’s a solid move forward for the Grade 11 student who was 12th among the junior girls at provincials last year.
Grade 12 student Lia Lancaster was Reynolds top finisher in the senior girls race, 12th overall.
Mount Douglas’ Liam Dwyer, Grade 10, finished nine seconds back of the junior boys winner, Joe Robertson of Oak Bay.
The top Saanich finishers in the junior girls bracket were Danielle Leipoldt of Pacific Christian School in third and Cleo Wulder of Claremont 10th.