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Athletes pace themselves on path to B.C.’s

Surrey Track & Field Championships - 3000 M races
Semi’s Jack Williams (right) leads Elgin’s Jake Bruchet at Earl Marriott’s Deon Clifford in the 3

If next month’s B.C. Track and Field Championships are the main event, last week’s Surrey city meet could be considered a sparring session – where the top contenders did enough to qualify without showing their opponents too many of their secrets.

Nowhere was that strategy more apparent than in the senior boys 1,500-m, which was staged Friday at Bear Creek Park, and featured some of the country’s top-ranked runners, including Semiahmoo’s Jack Williams, Fleetwood Park’s Keffri Neal, White Rock Christian’s Sean Keane, Earl Marriott’s Deon Clifford and Elgin Park’s Jake Bruchet.

Williams ended up winning the talent-laden race in a time of 4:10.37 – 100th of a second faster than Neal. Clifford, meanwhile, was third, Bruchet fourth and Keane sixth.

“It turned out to be something like a heavyweight boxing match where the opponents dance around and don’t throw a punch in the early rounds,” said Jim Clifford, father of Deon and also a club coach with Ocean Athletics.

The race had a “very pedestrian pace” to begin with, he added, pointing to the race’s split time as proof; runners ran the first half of the race in 2:15, but the last half 20 seconds faster, on average.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Keane – the defending B.C. 1,500-m champion – finishing sixth, although his father and coach, Liam, explained Monday that he had asked Sean to hold back, and save his energy for an international Athletics Canada-recognized meet the following day at the University of Washington. At that event, Keane won the junior 800-m; he is currently the No. 1-ranked junior runner in Canada at that distance.

There were plenty of other South Surrey and White Rock podium finishers last week at the Surrey meet, which was staged for two days at South Surrey Athletic Park and one at Bear Creek.

In the senior boys 3,000-m, Williams again took top spot, with Bruchet second and Clifford third. In the senior boys 800, Neal crossed the line first, followed in order by Wiliams, Clifford and Keane.

In the senior girls 1,500, Earl Marriott’s Melanie Oster was first – she also won the 3,000 – while Lord Tweedsmuir’s Regan Hasegawa was second.

In the Grade 10 girls 800-m race, it was a clean sweep for South Surrey runners – Semi’s Alison Williams was first, followed by Tessa Davis and Ally Ginter, both from EMS.

Semi’s Vanessa Sjoberg and Emma Scott both took podium positions in the senior girls 400, with Sjoberg first in a time of 58.4 seconds, and Davis third, five seconds back.

In field events, Elgin Park’s Ryan Sommer had a dominant week, winning the hammer throw, discus and shotput; Semi’s Robbie Kang was third in the shotput event.

Semi’s Richard Roberts won gold in junior boys triple jump.

Top finishers in each event qualified for Fraser Valley Track and Field championships, which are scheduled for May 16-19at Coquitlam Town Centre Stadium.

From there, qualifiers advance to provincial championships, to be staged June 3-4 at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.

World Celebration

Today (Wednesday), Ocean Athletics will host more than 300 athletes at its World Celebration, a one-day meet staged in honour of World Athletics Day.

Events begin at 1 p.m. at South Surrey Athletic Park.