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North Shore teams sweep podium at cross-country running provincial championships

West Vancouver, Handsworth and Sentinel senior girls finish 1-2-3 at high school championships held at Jericho Beach

It was a North Shore podium sweep in the team competition at the B.C. high school senior girls cross-country running championships held earlier this month at Jericho Beach in Vancouver.

West Vancouver, Handsworth and Sentinel finished 1-2-3 in the race Nov. 6, carrying on a North Shore tradition of strong middle distance running.

The race for first place in the team competition was a tight one, with West Van runners combining for a total score of 40, just edging out Handsworth at 45. Sentinel was third with a score of 89, while the fourth-place squad, Semiahmoo, clocked in at 138. Scores are calculated by adding up the placings for the team’s top-four finishers in the team event – the lower the score, the better.

Both West Van and Sentinel placed four runners in the top-35 overall in the race. Rachel Watkins, Ella Wigmore, Alexa Hartvikson and Rio Trotzuk paced the gold-medal-winning Highlanders, while Juliet Pulfrey, Kayley Brown, Kate Martin and Cordelia Hultman led Handsworth.

Sentinel’s Sidney Clement was the top North Shore finisher in the race, placing fifth overall and first among competitors in the team competition. Brooke Hemstead, Sofia Day and Emily Bourgault-Kennaley rounded out the top-four finishers for the Spartans.

“It was pretty exciting to go 1-2-3,” said West Van coach Colin Dignum about the North Shore sweep. “That was super cool for the girls. A lot of them know each other and they do other sports with each other. And then to go to a big championship race like that and kind of dominate was really exciting for the coaches and the girls for sure.”

The North Shore girls push each other to go fast, added Sentinal cross-country coach Mark Fenn.

“These are some competitive girls, and they thrive off the healthy competition,” he said. “It was very neat to see the three North Shore schools on top of the podium, hard work definitely paying off. The three programs are on the map as provincial powerhouses with how successful these three programs have been over the last few years.”

West Vancouver claimed double gold at the championships, with their junior boys team earning first place. The Highlanders – with a top-four of Japhy Crookham, Oliver Van Dijk, Louw Verway and Keyaan Jivraj – notched a score of 58 to beat out the 78 scored by Maple Ridge Secondary and 97 from Oak Bay. The junior boys team was a very talented bunch, said Dignum.

“This was probably the best [junior boys] team I’ve had in 25 years of coaching. I was pretty sure that they should win, and they actually ran probably their worst race of the season. It was a tough race, and they had a couple of bad starts and we rallied in the last mile to pass a few people. But it was sort of a testament to how good they were that they kind of won relatively easily with an average race for them. They were fantastically fun to watch all season.”

The North Shore has a strong cross-country running tradition that was certainly upheld at these championships.

“We definitely hit above our weight class,” Dignum said about the success North Shore teams have had in the sport over the years. “Maybe it's the lifestyle, the mountains, the parents, people getting their kids out and about doing the Grouse Grind. And, you know, a lot of rain, so maybe we have a slightly hardier group of kids. … We don't always dominate like [this year], but definitely, we have a very strong history of good cross-country results.”

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