© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated

2018 champion and Coastal Track Club member Josh Woolgard, holding the placard. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

Fleetwood Park Secondary’s fleet-of-foot Jaiveer Tiwana won the 2019 BC High School Cross Country Championships Saturday at Abbotsford’s Clearbrook Park.

Tiwana was coming off of the BC Clubs Cross Country Championships one week prior on Vancouver Island at Beaver Lake Park.

Asked how it feels to be the high schools champion as well as the 2019 club champion, Tiwana said, “It feels great. It was a long time coming. My first year, I found running too hard and quit, the next year I barely made provincials coming in about 80th in our zone, the next year I finished fourth. I owe a lot to my coach and my teammates.”

Who exactly was going to run away with the title was not obvious until Tiwana broke away from Stelly’s High School’s Jonah Brost and Brentwood College’s Keaton Heisterman.

Senior boys on a sharp turn after a downhill, first lap. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

The three worked their way out of a large pack as they crested the only major hill on the course for the final time, then Tiwana dropped the hammer.

With his coach Scott Kent and several friends running along with him, cheering, he powered through the final 400-metres with confidence. Last year’s champion Josh Woolgar held a placard with Tiwana’s name on it.

Asked if he saw it, he smiled and said, “Yes. I would like to thank him and everyone for cheering. That was really nice of him to do that.”

Heisterman did well to finish on the podium considering how he felt in the early parts of the race. He wasn’t feeling too great post-race either, as he pushed himself so hard that he made himself sick.

“I wasn’t feeling good during the first lap and wasn’t sure that I could finish, but it started to come together and I fought my way through the lead pack and began to feel better, so I worked hard over the final lap to get into a medal position,” said an exhausted Heisterman.

Late in the Sr. Girls race Madelyn Bonikowsky – 500m to go – photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

As for Brost, “I was hoping for a medal position, so I got it and I am happy with that.”

Brost also happens to be coached by two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon and is a member of the successful Prairie Inn Harriers Youth Team.

“He makes us work hard in the workouts, but he obviously knows what he is doing.”

Asked if he is considering a university for next year, he hopes to make a decision between the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria – keeping it close to home.

In the senior women’s race, Nelson’s Madelyn Bonikowsky, who attends LV Rogers also won back-to-back provincial titles, having also won clubs at Beaver Lake. She won the junior race in 2018 too.

Bonikowsky had to work hard to get the lead she needed going into the final lap.

Defending champion Kendra Lewis (Van Tech) fought hard to stay in contention and the two were together until the final lap, where separation slowly started to take place – Bonikowsky then kept her lead throughout and lengthened it over the final few hundred metres. Not leaving anything to chance, and with a clear lead, she continued to push the effort down the long finish chute to collapse at the end.

The third position went to Katelyn Stewart-Barnett with St. Thomas More in Burnaby.

“I am pretty happy with the result, said Bonikowsky. “I didn’t want to let a gap happen because once you get behind it is difficult to make up ground, so I worked hard to keep the lead.”

Lewis wanted to defend her title of course. The week prior, she was disappointed having to drop out of the club championships as she wasn’t feeling well; Saturday was an encouraging result. She now has time to continue to improve for national clubs taking place on the same course on Nov 30.

“I have some time now to get myself back into shape for nationals. I want to run well there and during track season of course as I am looking at which universities that I want to attend and run for.”

Interestingly, most of the junior medallists were hoping for a top-10 finish.

Tion McLeish representing St. Michael’s University School won the junior boys race. Devon Meadows, who attends Coquitlam’s Centennial SS finished second and Jaxon Kuchar of JL Crowe Secondary in the town of Trail finished third.

Leading and eventually winning the junior boys race Tion McLeish. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

The three finished the approximate 4K course in the time of 12:44, 12:57 and 13:03, respectively.

The top-three junior girls were Ella Madsen who won the U16 clubs championship title, she attends Riverside in Coquitlam and finished in the time of 14:20. In second was Christina Peet Williams from Chilliwack Secondary and Iris Tinmouth finished third. Peet Willams and Tinmouth crossed the finish line in the time of 14:32 and 14:36, respectively.

Conditions were ripe for fast runners, as the October rains made way for clear and cool conditions during the week leading up.

The course is known for being flat, with firm ground, but also offers a notorious hill in the middle that is steep.

Ella Madsen leading the junior girls up the steep hill. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics Illustrated

The BC High School Championships are competed by teams from across the province that is broken up into nine different zones.

Full results are available here>> 

Post-race interviews and race footage will be available soon.