Reynolds secondary student Erik Evans won the Vancouver Island senior boys cross country championships in surprising fashion at Beaver Lake Park.
And now Evans leads the Island contingent into the high school cross country provincial championship in Langley on Saturday.
Evans finished 17th at the cross country provincials last year but is now one of the top contenders. He used strategy and experience to outduel Oak Bay’s Liam Kennel and Dover Bay’s Peter Oxland in the Island championship when Kennel took a healthy lead to start the 6.7-kilometre race.
“Kennel is a dedicated track runner with a lot more training than I do,” Evans said. “He has massive speed and can start with a 400-metre out of my realm so I went with my pace that I know. I started a little quicker than usual but built with a pace as I went.”
Evans ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Oxland, eventually catching Kennel in the second of the race’s three laps. Oxland finished second. Kennel dropped to fourth.
“Oxland and I ran together without any strategy, we just ran hard until the bottom of the last hill of the third (and final) lap. At that point I knew that I couldn’t sprint with Oxland at the final so I challenged him in the third lap because that’s what I had to do if I wanted to win the race.”
Evans’ specialty is cross-country, not track, as the Grade 12 student is primarily a triathlete, though that is up in the air these days.
“I’m not on any particular training regime for triathlon right now, my dad is my unofficial coach, though I’d like to compete at the Western Canadian High School triathlon Championships (at Shawingan Lake) in May.
“I’m hoping to go out with a bang at provincials. I know what it takes, I’ve been here four years in a row, and to win Islands means a lot.”
Dover Bay was first among boys teams at Beaver Lake with Oak Bay second, Carihi third, Reynolds fourth, Claremont fifth and Mount Douglas sixth.
Desirae Ridenour of Mill Bay won the girls race for the second straight year with Chloe Hegland of Parkland secondary in second, the top finish for a Greater Victoria athlete.
Madelyn Brunt of Oak Bay was fifth and Morgan Roskelley 10th, helping their team to first overall among the girls’ teams. Mount Doug’s powerhouse crop of junior girls finished third in the team standings but has declined to race at the senior provincials. Watch out for them in the coming years. Stelly’s girls finished fifth and also declined provincials, opening the door for the sixth-place Reynolds girls to compete in Langley.