Runners from Cowichan Secondary, Quamichan School, Shawnigan Lake School and Brentwood College School line up at the start of a cross-country race at Bright Angel Park this fall. (Submitted by Mark Swannell)

Runners from Cowichan Secondary, Quamichan School, Shawnigan Lake School and Brentwood College School line up at the start of a cross-country race at Bright Angel Park this fall. (Submitted by Mark Swannell)

Kelsey’s Alexa Dow wins junior girls Island cross-country title

Top performers at Cowichan Valley cross-country series move on to Islands

Frances Kelsey Secondary School’s Alexa Dow won the junior girls race at the Vancouver Island high school cross-country running championships held at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park in Victoria on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Dow finished her race in 16 minutes and 40 seconds, 35 seconds ahead of the runner up, Tessa Hunter-Siebert of Stelly’s Secondary. She wasn’t the only runner from the Cowichan Valley to crack the top 10, as Luise Hitzbleck of Brentwood College School finished eighth.

The races marked the first Island cross-country championships since the fall of 2019. Last year’s events had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top finisher from the Cowichan Valley in the junior boys race was Carter Zuback of Queen of Angels, in a time of 17:38.

Yichen Gao of Queen Margaret’s School finished in the top 10 in the senior boys race, placing seventh with a time of 20:33, while Miles Powell of Frances Kelsey was 13th with a time of 21:11. Neve Martin was the top local finisher in the senior girls race, placing 12th with a time of 25:27.

Brentwood’s senior boys and girls both finished fifth in their respective team competitions.

Many of the runners from the Island championships will head to Vancouver on Nov. 6 for the provincial meet at Jericho Beach.

The Island championships arrived just after the end of a four-race cross-country series in the Cowichan Valley with stages at Bright Angel Park, Shawnigan Lake School, Glenora Park and Cobble Hill. Student athletes competed in three age divisions: midget (Grade 8 and some Grade 7s), junior (Grades 9 and 10) and senior (Grades 11 and 12), running distances between 1.7 and 5.5 km. The top eight runners in each race received a ribbon, and runners who finished all four races were awarded a series T-shirt.

Visiting teams from outside the district also attended, including Ladysmith, Nanaimo and Ucluelet.

“As always, these races have a great community atmosphere and a camaraderie begins to build between students from the different schools,” Shawnigan Lake School cross-country coach Mark Swannell commented.

Top performers from some of the competing schools included:

Frances Kelsey: Alexa Dow (junior girls) and Miles Powell (senior boys)

Brentwood: Neve Martin (senior girls)

Shawnigan: Jamie Tait (junior boys) and Haruka Ogawa (senior girls)

St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake: Autumn Lowes (junior girls), Oliver Price (junior boys) and Peter Salmon (senior boys)

Queen Margaret’s: Yichen Gao (senior boys)

Cowichan Secondary: Stanleigh Stone (junior boys) and Julie Frans (senior girls)

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Members of Shawnigan Lake School’s cross-country running team. (Submitted by Mark Swannell)

Members of Shawnigan Lake School’s cross-country running team. (Submitted by Mark Swannell)

Members of Brentwood College School’s cross-country running team. (Submitted by Mark Swannell)

Members of Brentwood College School’s cross-country running team. (Submitted by Mark Swannell)