Senior runners burst off the start line at Wednesday’s cross-country race at Crescent Park. (Nick Greenizan photo)

Surrey runners lace up for cross-country season

Crescent Park to host high-school Fraser Valley championships in October

One of the first sports on the high-school calendar is in full swing this month, as cross-country runners from across the Semiahmoo Peninsula take aim at a provincial title later this fall.

The cross-country season began in earnest last week – Elgin Park Secondary hosted the first Surrey race Sept. 21 at the school – and the city’s top runners laced up Wednesday afternoon for another day of competition, this time at Crescent Park, officially hosted by White Rock Christian Academy.

Crescent Park will be a frequent stop on the high-school circuit this fall; in addition to Wednesday’s race, the park will also be the site of a pre-Fraser Valley meet on Oct. 11, as well as Fraser Valley Championships on Oct. 18. The fourth and final race on the schedule is an Oct. 5 competition in Bear Creek Park, and provincial championships are set for Nov. 4 at Vancouver’s Jericho Beach.

Part of the reason the Sept. 21 event was held at Elgin Park – the first time the school has hosted a cross-country race – was because organizers didn’t want to run a fourth event at Crescent Park, said Elgin Park cross-country coach Greg Worsley, who is also the co-ordinator for the entire Fraser Valley zone.

The pre-Valley competitition was set up to allow non-Surrey schools – who compete in their own leagues – to get a feel for the trails a week before the Valley championships, he added.

“It’s a good chance for everyone to come check out the course.”

The Semiahmoo Peninsula has long been a hotbed of cross-country talent, Worsley noted, which has become a point of pride among local coaches and organizers.

“Something I’ve very proud of is that our happy, little race (Wednesday) gets more participants than entire other zones get (for championships,” he said, adding that interest in the sport is even more impressive considering how busy the high-school sports schedule is in the fall.

“A lot of the best athletes, they aren’t just running – they play (multiple) sports… so to have 100 kids come out to these races every week is pretty remarkable.”

South Surrey cross-country runners were pretty remarkable themselves last season, especially those wearing the green-and-orange colours of Earl Marriott Secondary. EMS runners had a pair of banner-winning performances last fall, as both the senior girls and senior boys teams won a Fraser Valley team title.

The Mariners are expected to be strong again this year, Worsley said, as the team will be led by, among others, the Mackie brothers, Jaxon and Jeremiah, in Grade 12 and 10, respectively. Last fall, Jaxon – who was recently returned from an ACL injury – was fifth among senior boys at Fraser Valleys, while Jeremiah was 11th despite racing against much older competition.

At the Sept. 21 season-opening race, both Mackies were front-and-centre, with Jaxon winning the four-km senior boys race and Jeremiah fifth. A third Mariner, Sajjan Sarai, was third, and Samuel Costanzo 14th, to help the team finish as the top overall team.

Holy Cross runner Riley Miller rounded out the podium finishes, placing second, while Tamanawis runner Tyson Baker was fifth, and a pair of Semiahmoo competitors, Mark Potashov and Trey Ferences, were seventh and eighth, respectively.

Elgin Park fared well in the two-km Grade 8 boys race, winning the overall team award thanks to a pair of podium-worthy runs – Isaac Baker was seconed and Kaelem Dumont was third. Teammate Michael Greenough was eighth, while also top-10 runs went to White Rock Christian Academy’s Jake Chuback, Calvin Tews and Jared Faw, who placed fifth through seventh, and Semi’s Taric Somani, in ninth.

In the Grade 8 girls race, also two km, Earl Marriott’s Sierra Plummer was second and Lord Tweedsmuir’s Emily St. Denis was third, while the three-km junior girls race was won by Southridge’s Maya Kobylanski. Semiahmoo’s Ava Mitchell and Carli Puskas were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the same race, while Emma Coban, Sophie Worsley – both from Elgin – and Marriott’s Samantha Palatinus rounded out the top 10.

Fleetwood Park Secondary’s Jaiveer Tiwana was the first to cross the line in the three-km junior boys race, followed by Holy Cross runner Owen Pinto. Michael Miller, from Semi, was fourth, while Tweedsmuir’s Tyler Wilson placed fifth.

Others in the top 10 included Marriott’s James Hill (sixth), Fleetwood Park’s Kobi Ramilo (seventh), Jake Taylor Tweedsmuir (eighth) and WRCA’s Evan Slofstra (10th).

For full results from all races, as well as a schedule of events for races in all Fraser Valley zones, visit www.fraservalleyxc.com

Festival of Cross-Country

Beyond the high-school scene, Crescent Park will also host club events throughout the fall, including this weekend’s Festival of Cross-Country, which is set for Saturday.

The event – hosted by Ocean Athletics – will be a day-long affair, featuring a number of different races, and will be highlighted by the 20th annual Crescent Park Cross-Country Run, which is hosted each year by the Semiahmoo Sunrunners.

Known locally as the ‘Bill Bowness Cross-Country Race” – named in memory of a former Sunrunner who passed away in 2000 after battle with cancer – the competition begins at 9 a.m., and is open to all interested runners.

The race is part of BC Athletics’ Lower Mainland Cross-Country series. Registration ($15) will be accepted pre-race, in the picnic area/parking lot off 28 Avenue and 130 St.

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