File photo. Jack Stanley (Oak Bay Alum) at 2017 Island Cross Country Championships. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Bradley Cunningham, SD61

Several of the top high school cross country runners in BC will be competing at the Vancouver Island High School Cross Country Championships at Beaver Lake Park on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 as the Oak Bay senior boys begin their journey to a BC Championship four-peat. The island has been a hub of elite running for years, with island schools winning team gold in three of the four divisions at the BC Championships last year. And new for the Island and BC Championship this year, there will be parity in the race distances for the first time as the juniors race will be approximately 4.5km and both senior races, the boys and the girls, will run just over 6km.

At the BC Championships last year, senior boys’ teams from the island occupied three of the top four placings, with Oak Bay winning gold and Reynolds and Dover Bay finishing third and fourth, respectively. Oak Bay returns their whole senior boys team from last year’s championship, while also adding Jack Amos, last year’s BC Athletics U-17 Cross Country champion and the bronze medalist in the U-20 5000m from the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Ottawa this past July. Amos made the move from Dawson City, YK to Victoria in 2017 in order to continue his growth as a runner and is now eligible to compete for Oak Bay after sitting out last year due to transfer rules. The addition of Amos to a championship team makes this year’s Oak Bay team one of the strongest in history—rivalling the St. George’s team of 2009 and the Dover Bay teams of 2013 and 2014—as Oak Bay goes for a four-peat (2015, 2016, 2017) in the senior boys’ division. With Reynolds graduating all their senior boys, teams to watch include the rapidly improving Mount Douglas Rams and the always strong Dover Bay Lazerhawks. Jack Boden (Oak Bay), Liam Dwyer (Mount Douglas), Cooper Langard (Parkland), and Keaton Heisterman (Brentwood College) and Fraser Van Allen (Dover Bay) will be attempting to challenge the dominant Amos over the three loop course.

The Oak Bay senior girls team returns to racing this fall having hung the 2017 senior girls provincial champion banner in the Oak Bay gym last fall, returning four of their seven team members from last year’s championship team and look to be a force at the provincial level. Other teams to watch at the Island Championships include Nanaimo District Secondary School (NDSS), Spectrum, St. Michael’s University School and Dover Bay. Individually, Alisa Lyesina and Delaney Chan from Oak Bay have been dominating the Lower Island this season, with Elise Coates (Wellington) and Jessica Castle (Cowichan) being athletes to watch from up island.

In the junior events, John Barsby looks to build on their impressive silver medal finish at the BC Championships last year, while Oak Bay and Lambrick Park look to challenge. Liam Kirkendale (Claremont) and Aiden Grew (Lambrick) look to be challenged by Barsby’s Gage Zanette and Jayden Watson. The defending junior girls BC Champions, NDSS, return a strong team to the Island Championships where they will face a test from Mark Isfeld, Reynolds, and St. Andrew’s. The junior girls’ race will be an exciting one with Bailly Rossnagel (NDSS), Grace Fulton (St. Andrew’s), Iris Tinmouth (Mark Isfled), Jamie Harker (St. Margaret’s), Sadie Seigsted (Mount Douglas), and Olivia Hopkins (Claremont), all pushing each other over the undulating 4.5k course.

The Vancouver Island High School Cross Country Championships occurs at Beaver Lake Park (near the entrance to the park off of Elk Lake Dr.) on Wednesday October 24th, 2018. The event times are as follows: 1:00pm – Jr. Girls Race; 1:30pm – Jr. Boys Race; 2:00pm – Sr. Girls Race; 2:30pm – Sr. Boys Race; 3:15pm – Awards at Beaver Lake Park

More information about the Vancouver Island Cross Country Championship can be found at http://athletic.islandnet.com/fall/cross-country/. More information about the BC High School Cross Country Championships can be found at http://www.bcxc.ca/

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