Canmore Collegiate High School took advantage of a home trail advantage in posting several top finishes at the cross-country running zone championships at the Canmore Nordic Centre on Oct. 5.
Canmore sent a mixed bag of athletes to the event, drawing from cross-country ski, biathlon, volleyball and climbing teams.
“I’m very, very proud of them all. It was an exceptionally difficult course on the Olympic loop. It’s straight uphill and very demanding,” said CCHS running coach Sabrina Harper.
The Grade 9 girls dominated their 3-kilometre race, taking the top four spots. Lauren Turcot, Becca Frangos, Sarah Frangos and Emmy Phillips all finished within 14 seconds of one another to sweep the top four spots.
“They are all good kids and are all enthusiastic. We have a great future with these girls. I’m really looking forward to the next three years,” Harper said.
Unfortunately, the girls will have to wait another year before travelling to the provincials, as the top race does not include Grade 9 runners.
Nico Tobias was the team’s other medal winner. The cross-country skier/runner/rock star had his best zone championships of his young career. He was in a neck and neck sprint to the finish line in his six km race, missing a gold medal by .04 of a second.
“Nico is an exceptional athlete,” Harper said. “He’s learned to pace and kick. He’s a long distance runner, and could have gone for miles and miles afterwards. At six kilometres, this was a short run for him.”
The top 18 athletes in each category are able to travel to the provincial championships this weekend near Medicine Hat.
In the Junior Girls 3 km race, Joelle Sevigny finished fourth and Maddie Harris finished 13th. Intermediate girl Allison Vest finished sixth, and senior girl Seraina Keller finished 17th.
Keller ran on a last minute request because the team needed another senior girl racer in order to qualify.
“We pulled her out of class and she did a great job, not knowing she would race that morning.”
For the Grade 9 boys, Matt Pauls finished ninth to qualify. In the junior boys 4 km race, Peter Hicks finished ninth and Aidan Miller was 13th. Intermediate boys Sam McConnery (fourth) and Jack Pengelly (16th) also qualified, while senior boy Gavin Hurd finished 10th – which was particularly noteworthy since he ran the course in skateboard shoes and retro ‘70s shorts.
Due to time constraints and other commitments, only six athletes from Canmore will travel to the provincials: Tobias, Hurd, Pengelly, Vest, Sevigny and Harris.
Coach Harper is optimistic about the team’s chances.
“We’re a really athletic community and the kids pulled together to win races,” Harper said. “We’re hoping our athletes can place in Top 20. I really feel our zone is more challenging than provincials. We have a strong zone.”
She also commended Wade Jarvis and Jeffrey Lodge for putting together the race, as well local cross-country ski and biathlon coaches for working with their athletes.
“Those coaches told their athletes they had to run in the race, so it was nice to have them on the team,” Harper said.