Runners take off from the start line at BC High School Cross-Country Championships Saturday at Jericho Park. (Gordon Kalisch photo)

Strong finish for Surrey runners at B.C. Cross-country Championships

Provincial high-school races held Saturday at Vancouver's Jericho Park

It may not have been the banner-raising day for Surrey cross-country teams that some expected, but a handful of runners fared well at B.C. High School Cross-Country Championships last weekend at Vancouver’s Jericho Park.

Of the five races held Saturday, it was the 4.6-km junior girls race that featured the best local results. Madelyn Bonikowsky – who attends South Delta Secondary but at the club level is a member of South Surrey-based Ocean Athletics – won the silver medal after crossing the finish line in 18 minutes, two seconds. Her time was just two seconds back of the gold medallist, Anna Maslechko of West Point Grey Academy.

Southridge’s Maya Kobylanski – whom Earl Marriott and Coastal Track Club head coach Scott Kent called “a very strong, very smart runner,” prior to the competition – also had a strong showing on the trail, placing fifth overall with a time of 18:25, and Holy Cross runner Madison Stoochnoff was 10th, 48 seconds off the lead pace.

Another Ocean Athletics member, Milena Kalisch of St. Thomas More, was 11th and Fleetwood Secondary’s Viviana Li was 14th, to round out Surrey’s top-20 finishers.

In the senior girls race – which, like the junior girls run was also 4.6 km long – the top Surrey runner was Princess Margaret Secondary’s Baneet Bains, who finished third, in exactly 18 minutes, which was 59 seconds slower than the blistering pace set by gold medallist Justine Stecko of Oak Bay, who was 22 seconds faster than the silver-medal winner.

Seaquam Secondary and Ocean Athletics runner Hannah Milic, at 17th overall, was the only other Surrey/Delta runner to finish in the top 20.

The 6.9-km senior boys race featured a twin bill at the top of the podium, with Langley brothers Zach and Tate Wyatt of R.E. Mountain Secondary finishing first and second, respectively, just one second apart.

Two Surrey runners placed inside the top 20 – Holy Cross’s Aiden Miller was 13th, and Earl Marriott’s Sajjan Sarai was 19th. Sarai’s teammate, Jaxon Mackie, was one of the pre-race favourites – and the defending Fraser Valley champion – but dropped out of the race after one lap.

In the junior boys event – which featured a five-km circuit – the top Surrey finisher was Holy Cross and Ocean Athletics member Owen Pinto, who was 13th, just 34 seconds back of first-place finisher Keaton Heisterman of Brentwood College. Placing just outside the top 20, in 21st place, was Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tyler Wilson.

A para-division race was also held as part of the provincial championships, with Semiahmoo’s Aneil Kullar competing alongside two other competitors, Ges Bushe from West Vancouver and Lord Byng’s Brandon Vanderluit.

In total, 1,100 runners were entered in the five races – and 997 finished – which was the largest-ever field at the event, according to Maureen de St. Croix, head coach of Ocean Athletics and a longtime track and cross-country coach at Semiahmoo.

“It was a great day… Very fast, very competitive field,” de St. Croix said.

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