When track and field star Katelyn Hayward of Mount Douglas secondary put her own ambitions aside to finish the four-kilometre Island cross country championship at Beaver Lake Park with a twisted ankle last Wednesday, it meant the end of her cross country season, but a provincial berth for her team.
Nanaimo District secondary won the Island girls team trophy at Beaver Lake and will head to provincials in Kelowna on Saturday (Nov. 5).
The top four boys and girls teams each qualify seven runners to the B.C.’s, with Mt. Doug and Oak Bay the only Island schools sending both.
Dover Bay (first), Oak Bay (second), Claremont (third) and Mt. Doug (fourth) will represent the boys. Nanaimo (first), Oak Bay (second), Mt. Doug (third) and Spectrum (fourth) will represent the girls.
Hayward and Mt. Doug teammate Caleigh Bachop were favoured to compete for the top spot. Bachop finished fourth, Hayward seventh.
The effort marks the latest achievement in Mt. Doug’s attempt to restore the glory it enjoyed as a cross country powerhouse under legendary coach Stan Gill in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
“If (Hayward) stops, our girls team doesn’t go to the B.C. championships,” said teacher sponsor and coach Bernie Kidd. “It was extremely courageous of her. She ran for the team.”
Hayward, a Grade 12 student, is Canada’s top steeplechaser for her age and the standing B.C. high school champion in the 3,000-metre, as well as the record holder in the 1,500m. She’s currently being courted by universities and had every reason to pull out of the race. Because of the injury Hayward won’t be attending provincials.
“It’s Mt. Doug’s best Island result in two decades,” he added.
Kidd credited coaches Steve Murenbeeld and Al Niezen for preparing Mt. Doug’s best cross country team since Gill stepped down in the 1990s.
“We’re all excited about the prospects at provincials and looking forward to getting another crop of strong runners from Arbutus middle school next year,” Kidd said.
Duo tops on Island
Powerful Claremont duo Lehm Maguire and Connor Foreman finished the 6.7-km boys race one second apart in first and second, respectively, leading the Claremont boys to provincials.
Claremont took fourth overall, displacing the Reynolds boys team which ended up in fifth despite managing three top-20 finishes: Seamus Maguire (11), Erik Evans (18) and Drew Peacock (19).