Semiahmoo Totems’ runner Emily Liang (#4125) keeps pace with a group of runners during Saturday’s cross-country championship in Prince George.

Semiahmoo Totems’ runner Emily Liang (#4125) keeps pace with a group of runners during Saturday’s cross-country championship in Prince George.

Totem girls run to cross-country title

Semiahmoo's Chelsea Ribiero finishes fifth in Prince George race

They were younger than most, talented but not necessarily top contenders, but that didn’t stop the Semiahmoo Totems senior girls cross-country team from adding another banner to the school’s collection.

Saturday in Prince George, Semi’s girls team – Chelsea Ribiero, Julia Greer, Kara Lauer, Alison Williams, Dominica Paige and Emily Liang – finished atop the team standings at B.C. Cross-Country Championship with an aggregate finish of 72, which was more than 30 better than West Point Grey Academy, who were favoured to win the event.

Scores are tabulated by taking the finishing positions of each team’s top five runners, and adding them together; lowest overall score wins.

And Saturday, four Totems finished inside the Top 40, conquering a tough 4.3-km course that featured three large hills, slush- and snow-covered ground, and weather cold enough that many runners wore gloves.

Ribiero was Semiahmoo’s top finisher, in fifth, clocking a time of 18 minutes and one second, followed by Greer in 16th, Lauer in 20th, Williams in 33rd, Paige in 38th and Liang 81st.

“It was really amazing, incredibly inspirational,” said Semi Totems coach Scott Yewchuk.

“The team is made up of Grade 9s, Grade 10s, only one Grade 12 runner, so for them to go into a senior event and win is amazing.

“I don’t know that people expected us to win. And we never talked about finishing first, just about running a good race. But you run to win.”

As happy as he was with the results, Yewchuk was perhaps more impressed with the effort put forth, especially considering the adverse conditions all runners were faced with.

“Watching them run, they just seemed so focused,” he said.

“They really turned themselves inside out – Julia was so tired at the end, that she just collapsed after she crossed the finish line.”

The Totems weren’t the only south-end athletes to fare way at provincials. Earl Marriott’s Ally Ginther also finished in the Top 20, placing 12th in a time of 18:28, and Elgin Park’s Reta Dobie was 51st, in 19:59.

Sentinel Secondary (West Vancouver) runner Nicole Hutchinson was the individual title, crossing the finish line in 17:44.

In the boys 6.3-km race, Kwantlen Park’s Tim Delcourt was the winner, finishing in 22:20. The top South Surrey runner was Earl Marriott’s Stuart McDonald, who clocked a time of 23:41.

Semi’s Jalen Sekhon placed 78th out of 247 runners, while Connor Jackson was 86th.

Elgin Park’s top runner in the boys race was Riley Gray, who finished in  81st place.