The Nanaimo District Secondary School junior girls’ cross-country team won the provincial championship on Saturday in Vancouver. Pictured are Ava Alexander, left, Kai Belbin, Bailey Rossnagel, Kate Cameron, Kyra Gillette and Erin Jensen. (Submitted photo)

NDSS junior girls’ cross-country team runs to provincial title

Islanders runners accumulate 59 points and record an overall time of 1:18:55

Nanaimo District Secondary School’s junior girls’ cross-country team was crowned provincial champs in Vancouver this past weekend.

Grade 9 athletes Ava Alexander, Kai Belbin, Kate Cameron, Kyra Gillette, alongside Bailey Rossnagel (Grade 8), and Erin Jensen (Grade 10) bested second-place Lord Byng Secondary by 45 seconds and 29 points at the 4.6-kilometre championship in Jericho Beach Park on Saturday. NDSS had a total time of 1:18:55 and an average time of 19:43.

Bobbie Taylor, NDSS coach, said the four fastest runners are part of the scoring system and the next fastest can score to displace other runners in a tie situation.

“The goal was to come out with the lowest possible amount of points and we finished with 59 points and the second-place team [Lord Byng] came out with [88], so we had a really, really great race,” said Taylor.

Rossnagel was the fastest of the NDSS team (12th overall), with a time of 18:56, all the more impressive considering she was one of only two Grade 8 students competing in a field of 249 girls, said Taylor.

Jensen had a time of 19:47, Cameron 19:49, Gillette 20:23, Alexander 21:13 and Belbin, racing with a broken arm, had 22:14.

In addition to cross-country, said Taylor, the team is comprised of multi-disciplinary athletes and this was beneficial as the weather was less than ideal.

“I think that’s what made ours quite a unique team, that we’re trained in different areas and a lot of strengths [became an] advantage,” said Taylor. “Mental toughness … and given the conditions, they were below freezing and snowing, they really showed some great mental toughness along with their fitness, peaking at the right time.”

Taylor said the junior title bodes well for the NDSS senior team.

“Senior definitely is another level,” said Taylor. “There’s some very, very strong runners and Oak Bay absolutely dominated this year, but I think no matter what, we can compete and we’ll do the best that we can.”

Also at provincials, John Barsby Secondary School’s junior boys were runners-up at provincials, with Gage Zanette placing sixth and Ethan Hart seventh.

Dover Bay secondary school’s senior boys were fourth, led by Fraser Van Allen who was 10th overall. Dover’s senior girls came seventh.

Also, Nanaimo Track and Field Club athlete Madison Heisterman, representing Brentwood, came sixth in the senior girls’ race.

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