Earl Marriott's first-place senior girls cross-country team. Below

Banner day for Earl Marriott runners

EMS senior teams win banners and Fraser Valley Cross-Country Championships last week in Coquitlam.

A big day for Earl Marriott Secondary senior cross-country teams last week may only be topped by one thing – another big day on Saturday.

At Fraser Valley Cross-Country Championships last Wednesday afternoon at Coquitlam’s Mundy Park, the EMS Mariners snagged both the senior boys and senior girls banners in convincing fashion, and could – if all goes well – repeat the feat this weekend at provincial championships in West Kelowna.

“In all my years coaching, I don’t remember a year where one school had a shot at both (senior) provincial banners,” said Marriott’s head coach Scott Kent.

“There’s just very few times you get to go for both in the same year… there’s a lot of good teams, but we’ve got an outside shot. It’s a fairly unique situation.”

The Valley showdown at Mundy Park, Kent added, was a fairly accurate predictor of provincials, considering most of B.C.’s top runners this year hail from the Fraser Valley.

In the 6.3-km senior boys race, Marriott’s Dawson Ribeiro won silver, clocking a time of 22 minutes, 10.68 seconds, losing a sprint to the finish line against first-place runner Liam Foster of Pitt Meadows, who finished less than half a second ahead of Ribeiro, a first-year Mariner who formerly competed at Semiahmoo Secondary.

Ribeiro wasn’t the only EMS senior to fare well in the race, however. Jaxon Mackie – recently returned from a serious ACL injury that required surgery – was fifth, in 22:55.15, and his younger brother, Grade 9 runner Jeremiah Mackie was 11th, clocking a time of 23:34.93.

“Jaxon is getting stronger every day,” Kent said of his Grade 11 runner.

Sajjan Sarai and Andrew Lewis, two more EMS runners, rounded out the top 20 with a 14th and 16th place showings, respectively.

In the 4.7-km senior girls Fraser Valley run, the Mariners won the team banner with ease, with three finishers inside the top 10 and six in the top 20. Their overall team score – in which finishing positions of a school’s top four runners are added together, with the lowest score winning – was 50 points clear of the second-place Riverside Rapids of Port Coquitlam.

Georgia Ginther led the charge for the Mariners with a fifth-place finish, in a time of 17:36.54, which was less than two seconds quicker than teammate Kera Mumford, who placed sixth.

Mumford’s performance at the senior level was made even more impressive considering she is only in Grade 8 and was, by far, the youngest runner in the field.

“It’s amazing what she’s done – how is she only in Grade 8?” Kent said.

Haley Ribeiro – in eighth – rounded out the top 10, while Carly Good was 14th, Lisa Seidelmann 16th, Simran Sarai 20th and Colleen Wiebe 22nd.

But even with a slew of green-and-orange clad EMS runners at the front of the field, Clayton Heights Secondary proved tough to top, and had a perfect 1-2 punch on the podium with sisters Christina Sevsek winning gold and her sister, Julie, taking home silver.

Other top finishers from the Semiahmoo Peninsula included White Rock Christian Academy’s Elizabeth Gin, who was 15th and Sullivan Heights’ Gabby Bourassa-Tait, who finished in 31st.

The Mariners’ Grade 8s were equally impressive.

The boys team fared well enough as a unit that they qualified for provincials this weekend – though they’ll be running alongside junior teams, as there are no Grade 8 races at the provincial level.

The Mariners’ top finisher was Cash Raymond, who placed seventh, and was followed by Micah Logie in 11th, Daya Sarai in 13th and Matthew Weibe in 22nd.

As well, Alexis Friedel won bronze in the 3.4-km Grade 8 girls race, finishing in 16:02.91.

Like her Grade 8 boys teammates, her performance was also enough to qualify her for the junior provincial race, though she’ll compete without teammates after the Grade 8 team missed qualifying as a group by a single point.

For full results from Fraser Valleys, visit www.fraservalleyxc.ca

Though the Mariners will now take aim at one, and maybe two, provincial banners, Kent expects the task to be a difficult one – not just for his team, but for everyone.

The West Kelowna course is on a mountainside, he explained, so in addition to the usual challenges of trail-running, competitors will have to deal with an increase in altitude.

“Also, it’s November – it could be snowing,” he said. “It’ll be tough, a real test, especially for runners from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island who aren’t used to training there.

“It’s going to be about survival – fitness will be a huge factor.”

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