Individual achievements aside, high school cross country running truly is a team sport.
Case in point: the R.E. Mountain Secondary Eagles junior boys’ victory during Saturday’s B.C. high school cross country championship meet at Jericho Beach Park in Vancouver.
The Eagles were led by 15-year-old twins Zach and Tate Wyatt, who finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the junior boys race.
They were followed by teammates Jordan Schmidt (12th), and Danny Lee (111th) as R.E. Mountain pushed to the top of the podium.
Rounding out the R.E. Mountain junior boys runners were Elias Robinson (184th) and Mina Keddis (204th).
R.E. Mountain teacher/cross country coach Debbie McKinnon was thrilled with the way the junior boys ran, in sloppy conditions.
“I have not come down since Saturday,” McKinnon said. “They were just so determined and they worked so hard throughout the training season that started way back in August. They worked as a team, collectively, to improve their own performance. It was the worst conditions possible and they absolutely rose to the challenge.”
McKinnon called the course “a mud pit,” which was the byproduct of the torrential weekend rain.
“It was pretty ugly out there for them,” McKinnon said. “It was mind over matter.”
In the junior girls race, Langley Christian’s Brooke Mussche placed third, 30 seconds behind provincial champion Annika Austin of Kitsilano.
“I was pretty happy,” Mussche said. “I was wanting to finish in the top three and run hard, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.”
Mussche said that with about 800 metres to go, she was in sixth spot but was determined to dig in and achieve her goal.
“I passed two people and kind of kept my feet moving and kept going,” she said. “It was the last race of the season and I really wanted to do well.”
The next fastest local junior girl was Walnut Grove’s Grace Chalk, who ended up 16th.
The fastest senior boy from Langley was another Gator, Ford McMahon, who placed 26th.
He was part of a WGSS senior boys squad that ended up fourth and also included Paul Buckingham (38th), Ethan Carlson (42nd), and Will Riley (64th), along with Jake Robertson (80th), Liam Riley (119th), and Liam Smithson (143rd).
Brookswood’s Louise Forsyth placed an impressive 10th in the senior girls race.
Among teams, the Walnut Grove junior girls finished fourth, and included Chalk, Sarah Buckingham (40th), Kelsey Stelnick (58th), and Samantha Matthewman (59th), along with Holly Harrison (65th) and Emma Rolfson (146th).
The top senior girls team was the Walnut Grove Gators (eighth). The team included Isabella Boccia (28th), Chelsea Borrowdale (33rd), Emma Deardon (87th), and Breanne Dejong (96th), along with Jordan Jacobs (108th), Tavia Rowell (125th), and Grace McKay (129th).