Throughout the first two months of the 2011 high school season, cross country runners across Canada have been honing their skills, putting in seemingly endless training miles and gearing up to put their best foot forward at their respective provincial championships this fall. In this month’s sport spotlight we take a look at stories from two provincial championship events, highlight a running rivalry brewing on the West Coast and feature one of Canada’s most successful high school cross country programs.
Alberta Cross Country Provincial Championships
Eagle Butte High School played host to 119 runners from around the province at the Alberta School Athletic Association (ASAA) Cross Country running provincials at Elkwater Provincial Park Oct. 15.
For grade 11 student Hayley Francois, finishing second place in last year’s competition was a great accomplishment, however she knew that she wanted more. In this year’s competition, she proved that she had it in her all along, as she claimed the intermediate girl’s title.
Francois’s winning time in the intermediate 4km race was 17 minutes, 20 seconds. The runner-up was Kinley Gibson of the Jasper Place Rebels at 17:30.
The hilly course brought out the best in the 2010 Athletics Alberta cross-country midget female of the year. Last year Francois represented the Paul Kane Blues at provincials in Vermilion and was the second-fastest female in the junior 3km at 13:14. At the October 5th Edmonton zone provincial qualifier, Francois was the top intermediate female at 17:53. The 16 year old is a member of the Edmonton Harriers Track and Field Club and runs cross country to stay in shape for the indoor meets.
On the senior girls side, Alana Skocdopole from Red Deer’s Notre Dame High School earned a rare distinction in ASAA cross country as she won the 4km senior girls race in a time of 16:54, giving her gold medals from each of her three visits to the provincial finals during her high school career at Notre Dame.
Will Clack from Winston Churchill took top honors in the senior boys division with a winning time of 21:59 for the 7km race. Kieran McDonald from Hunting Hills and Chris Fitzgibbon from Sir Winston Churchill placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.
New Brunswick Cross Country Provincial Championships
In New Brunswick, over 250 athletes took part in the 2011 New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association (NBIAA) Cross Country Championships on Friday, October 14th at Odell Park.
The entire Fredericton High School Black Kats cross country running team put forth a strong effort as they ended up just three points shy of a clean sweep of the provincial team titles at the season ending event.
The FHS junior boys and junior girls teams were both dominant as they took home their respective team championships, while the senior girls team just barely overtook Saint John High School in the final meters to take first place. The senior boys also had a strong performance, however they were edged by Saint John HS and finished a very close second in the team competition.
FHS coach Kevin Daley was thrilled with his team’s performance and attributes their success to their collaborative hard work and intense training schedule, which has been in full swing since the first week of September.
The extra training certainly paid off for Cassandra Parsons of the Kats’ senior girls squad who passed Victoria Leblanc of SJHS in the final stretch to place 11th in the senior girls’ 4km race, unknowingly clinching the title for FHS. It was the storybook ending for the Grade 12 student and her teammates after falling short at last year’s championships.
Josh Shanks of SJHS took home gold in the junior boys’ 4km event, finishing at 13:27.20. The Kats’ Tully Masterson won silver with a 13:59.70 time, while Paul Tremblay of École Samuel-de-Champlain grabbed bronze with a 14:02.90 finish.
École Sainte-Anne’s Luiza Schwarz won gold in the junior girls’ 3km, stopping the clock at 11:18.40. Mackenzie Amos of FHS finished in second at 11:23.90, with Claire McGrath from Woodstock High School finishing at 11:36.90 to place third.
In the senior girls race, Katie Robinson of SJHS took the gold with a 15:19.50 time, while Jolaine Boucher of ESA came in second at 15:36.30. Hannah Arsenault of SJHS won the bronze with a 15:41.40 time.
Lee Wesselius of J.M.A. Armstrong High School in Salisbury grabbed the gold in the senior boys’ 5km event, finishing at 15:52.10. Nick MacMakin of SJHS placed second with a 16:33.00 finish, and Dylan Hebert came in third at 16:57.00.
British Columbia’s New Island Rivalry
A resurgence with the Mount Douglas Secondary School’s cross country program has seen its team grow to include 30 runners and become a serious threat to Oak Bay High’s streak as the top team in Victoria at the Vancouver Island cross country championships.
The Island’s high school cross country championships get under way at Beaver Lake Park on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
It’s the depth of Mt. Doug that has coach Bernie Kidd thinking of an Island title.
Seniors Caleigh Bachop (Grade 11) and Katelyn Hayward (Grade 12) lead the Mt. Doug girls’ team along with Grade 9 phenom Farisha Arnensen. Each of the three won a race for Mt. Doug during the school racing season, as have seniors Tyler Norman and Thomas Getty.
Another factor in Mt. Doug’s favour is the number of crossover athletes from other sports who are now excelling at cross country running. About two-thirds of the team is dedicated to cross-country and additionally coach Kidd explains he picked up some mercenaries from field hockey, football and basketball that have really strengthened the overall team.
The boost in Mt. Doug’s program has a bright future as well, as Mt. Doug’s Grade 9 athletes are leading the city and proving be a strong contender in the years ahead.
Arnensen won the Grade 9 girls’ race at the Island Age Grade Cross Country Championships held at Beaver Lake Park on Oct. 18. Joel Getty and Ethan Taylor were first and second, respectively, in the Grade 9 boys’ race. Mt. Doug’s Mohand Khouider was fifth and Ryan Niezen was seventh in the same race, winning the Grade 9 team title for Mt. Doug.
Connor Foreman (Claremont) and Brittany King (Spectrum) won the Island Gr. 11 and 12 titles at Beaver Lake on Tuesday, with Erik Evan (Reynolds) winning the Gr. 10 boys’ title and Nanaimo’s Brittany King topping all grade 10 girls.
Stay tuned for the results of the Island Championships in our October monthly review.
Sport Spotlight Team Focus: Thousand Islands Secondary School
The Thousand Islands Secondary School (TISS) Pirates cross country program in Brockville, Ontario is one of largest and the most successful high school cross country teams in the province of Ontario. The Pirates have captured several OFSAA Overall Cross Country titles and many team, invitational, and international championships. Over the years, the Pirates Cross Country team has amassed an astonishing 26 straight overall Leeds and Grenville Secondary School Athletic Association (LGSSAA) team titles, and 27 EOSSAA overall team titles. The Pirates entered the 2011 fall season with 80 dedicated athletes determined to carry on the fine tradition that has come to be known as the “Purple Pack”. Each season the program plays host to over 1,000 athletes from over 60 schools from all over the province of Ontario during the annual Pirates Invitation Cross Country Meet.
For more information and past player profiles visit the Pirates website: