Walnut Grove runner captures B.C. junior boys cross country title

Joel Harrison is the king of B.C. high school junior boys cross country running.

The Walnut Grove Secondary Grade 10 student took top spot at the Saturday’s provincial race, held at the West Shore Parks & Recreation Complex in Colwood.

“It wasn’t close,” WGSS cross country coach Don Sparks said. “He won by 13 or 14 seconds. It shouldn’t surprise anybody because he finished second [in the provincial race] last year.”

Harrison, who finished the course in 17:45, well ahead of Oak Bay’s Jack Stanley (17:58) was also part of a provincial champion WGSS junior boys squad that topped B.C.

The team included scoring runners Ford McMahon (seventh), Paul Buckingham (14th), and Jake Robertson (28th), as well as Will and Liam Riley.

“I think this year, my team was much more in the running to win the championship, so I pushed myself as much as I could to help the team win it,” Harrison said.

Harrison said his goal was to finish in the top three, but with so many strong runners, he added, “I was hoping to do my best and see what happens.”

When he crossed the finish line, Harrison said the dominating feeling was satisfaction.

“I felt like the whole year had been a success,” he said. “All my training finally came into play. It was such a good feeling.”

At the same time, Harrison said being part of a championship team was an even greater accomplishment.

“These are the guys I train with and spend so much time with, so to not only be successful individually, but be part of a [championship] team, it meant so much more.”

The top local runner in the B.C. junior girls race was Langley Christian’s Brooke Mussche, who placed seventh.

Led by 30th place finisher Samantha Matthewman (a Grade 8), Walnut Grove finished third in the junior girls team standings behind B.C. champion Little Flower Academy and second-place Seycove.

In the senior boys race, Langley Christian’s Nick Colyn ran to 14th place.

And in the senior girls event, the top local finisher was Walnut Grove’s Isabella Boccia, who finished 17th.

She was followed closely by her teammate Chelsea Borrowdale (19th).

The Walnut Grove senior girls placed fourth in team standings.

Emma Dearden (who finished 28th) had her best performance of the season, said Sparks, who added that he was impressed by his entire team’s effort.

“I’m happy with every single runner,” he said. “The teams all ran really well and we had a fabulous trip. The kids get along really well. I’m just thrilled for the team. We’ve never done this well at a B.C. championships, and I’m just proud of everybody.”

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