Palesch, Williams lead Semiahmoo Totems at track provincials

Elgin Park Secondary
Elgin Park Secondary's Jake Hanna clears a hurdle during BC High School Track and Field Championships Friday at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby. Hanna won three medals – including two golds – in the Grade 8/9 meet, and was one of a handful of south-end athletes to find themselves on the podium.
— image credit: Gord Goble photo

Meghan Palesch and Alison Williams were among the Peninsula medal-winners last weekend at BC High School Track and Field Championships, helping pace the Semiahmoo Totems to a top-10 overall finish among senior girls.

Palesch led the charge with a pair of medals, striking gold in the senior girls 100-m hurdles, and adding a silver medal in the 400-m hurdles.

In the 100-m event, Palesch edged Tumbler Ridge hurdler Laura Sharman by nine one-hundredths of a second to win gold. In the 400-m, she was three seconds back of winner Katharine Tourigny of West Point Grey.

The double-medal performance was made even more impressive, considering Palesch had been sidelined the past six weeks with a groin injury, and only had one warm-up meet in Nanaimo prior to lacing up for high school provincials. In the Nanaimo competition, she won gold and was one-tenth of a second away from setting a B.C. record in the 300-m hurdles.

She also missed all of last season – provincials included – with a stress fracture in her foot.

“It was nice to be able to come back,” she said Monday. “I felt good, 100 per cent.”

Williams, meanwhile, won silver in the 800-m for the second consecutive year, placing second behind gold medallist Ashley Windsor of Walnut Grove, who won the race by 1.94 seconds.

Palesch and Willliams were two of just three Totem girls to reach the finals in any event – Rachel Cho in the 1,500-m steeplechase was the other – which placed Semi eighth in the girls competition, with a total of 26 points. That mark left them tied with Vancouver Island’s Mount Douglas and Earl Marriott, rounding out the provincial top 10.

No Surrey team finished inside the top 10 in overall aggregate scores, and Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, tied for eighth, were the lone local team to place amongst the leaders in the boys competition.

Other South Surrey athletes to find themselves on the podium during the two-day meet, which was held at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium June 1-2. included Earl Marriott’s Kathryn Van Ryswyk, who cleared the bar at 3.1-m to win gold in the pole vault, beating Oak Bay’s Rianne Craig, whose best mark was 2.85 m.

“That was the highlight for us,” said EMS coach Jim Clifford of Van Ryswyk, who was also sixth in the girls 100-m hurdles.

Deon Clifford, meanwhile, won bronze in the 2000-m steeplechase, just ahead of Panorama Ridge runner Nathan Goodwin, who was fourth. Goodwin also placed second in the boys 800-m. Clifford’s time was a few ticks slower than his performance last year – in which he didn’t finish on the podium – but the senior runner, who will compete next year at the University of Texas at El Paso, has been fighting off sickness for the last two weeks. He pulled out of the 3,000-m race at provincials after a few laps because he did not feel well.

Two other EMS competitors had top-five finishes – Taylor Neveu in the girls high jump and Sarah Korpach in the girls 400-m hurdles.

Lord Tweedsmuir’s top athlete was thrower Ben Ingvaldson, who won gold in the shotput ­– throwing a distance of 14.93 m – and was also fourth in discus.

Ingvaldson is only in Grade 9 and was eligible to compete in the Grade 8/9 event, but decided to step up to the senior level at the urging of his coaches.

“We convinced him to try and compete with the big boys,” said Clifford, who coaches Ingvaldson at the club level with Ocean Athletics. “He went into the meet with pretty modest expectations, but it was absolutely the best age-graded performance of the meet. It was remarkable.”

Ingvaldson’s Tweedsmuir teammate Allison Gallaugher was fourth in the long jump.

Elgin Park’s Max Hanna was the school’s lone medallist in the senior competition, winning silver in the senior boys javelin, throwing a distance of 53.76 m.

White Rock Christian also had one medallist at provincials, as senior Jordan Watson scored a silver medal in the senior boys high jump.

His best jump of 1.9 metres actually tied first-place finisher Bashir Khan of St. George’s, but Khan was awarded gold because he took fewer attempts to hit the mark.

In the Grade 8/9 championships Elgin Park’s Jake Hanna stole the show, with two gold medals – in the 200-m and 400-m events – and one silver, in the 100-m hurdles.

Hanna’s times in all three were enough to qualify him for nationals later this summer, where he’ll represent Team BC.

Others to find the podium in the Grade 8/9 event were Elgin’s Lexi Reimer, who won bronze in the girls 100-m, and Semi’s Chelsea Ribeiro, who was second in the 3,000-m.

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