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, Oct. 20, as high school athletes resume competing after a year away due to the pandemic.  

Last school year, BC School Sports ran the Cross Country Pandemic Challenge as a virtual event, with schools submitting times for their athletes across a 3k distance for juniors (Grades 9 and 10) and a 5k distance for seniors (Grades 11 and 12). However, this year Vancouver Island athletes will once again compete against each for a berth to the BC Championships.  

Tion McLeish, a Grade 12 student from St. Michaels University School (SMUS) and a favourite in the senior boys’ race is excited to be able to toe the start line ahead of the BC Championships, Nov. 6 at Jericho Beach in Vancouver.  

Tyler Dozzi running the 2018 University of Victoria Vikes invitational in Beacon Hill Park, Dozzi was a high school islands champion. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Athletics illustrated

“I think it is really just a gift to be back running again and having the adrenaline rush you usually get. Last year was pretty brutal,” McLeish said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh I’m running by myself so it’s no pressure,’ but you lose a lot of motivation to run fast, so definitely being back with another 200 kids on the starting line is really nice to be a part of again. Being that it is my grad year, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think everyone is going to be really psyched to be back so we can compete against the island and then the mainland when it comes to BCs.” 

McLeish leads a strong contingent of Sr. Boys competitors, with Aiden Grew of Lambrick Park Secondary, Yichen Gao from Queen Margaret’s School (Duncan), Niko Krusekopf of Glenlyon Norfolk School, and the Oak Bay High duo of Basil Parkins and Julian Cameron.  

In the Senior Girls race, Ruby Broadbent of Parkland, has been running out on her own as she uses the Island Championships as preparation for her shot at winning the BC Championships. Broadbent is the local favourite as she won all four Lower Island meets this year, with teammate Marie Meyer-Piton, Ella Ballard of Royal Bay, and Adelaide Badini of Spectrum Community School consistently rounding out the top four. Elena Sales from Kwalikum Secondary School is fresh off a wins at Powell River and Port Alberni meets and will also be looking to book her spot at BCs. Jada Kamerman of Nanaimo Christian School finished second to Sales in those two races and will be among the leaders at the Island Championships. 

In the Junior Boys category, Claremont Secondary student Ethan Nozick has been setting the pace, consistently winning the Lower Island meets. Looking to stay with Ethan will be Rory Bratrud of Mark Isfeld Secondary, Aiden Gutierrez of Dover Bay, Theo Serowka of Glenlyon Norfolk School, Tyler Browne of Oak Bay High School, and Owen Sandquist-Sherman of SMUS. 

The Junior Girls field may be the most exciting race of all with a wide-open field of very strong runners. . The front pack will feature Nella Meinecke of SMUS, Carly Ram of Mark Isfeld, Thea Damian of Claremont, Sarah Roberts of Mark Isfeld, Saige Parfitt of Reynolds, Tessa Hunter-Siebert of Stelly’s, and Grade 8 phenom Nelle Liefsoens from Brooks Secondary (Powell River). 

Vancouver Island has a rich history as a hub of elite running, with island schools often winning team gold at the BC Championships. In fact, the last time the BC Championships were held in person, it was John Barsby Secondary winning the Sr. Boys’ title. This year, look for perennial powerhouse Oak Bay to continue to challenge for podium spots across all categories in the team races at both Islands and the BC Championships. 

The Vancouver Island High School Cross Country Championships occur at Beaver Lake Park (near the entrance to the park off Elk Lake Dr.) on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The event times are as follows: 1:00 pm – Jr. Girls Race; 1:30 pm – Jr. Boys Race; 2:00 pm – Sr. Girls Race; 2:45 pm – Sr. Boys Race; 3:30 pm – Awards at Beaver Lake Park 

More information about the Vancouver Island Cross Country Championship can be found at https://vancouverislandschoolsports.ca/fall/cross-country/.  

More information about the BC High School Cross Country Championships can be found at https://www.bcschoolsports.ca/championship/cross-country 

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