COQUITLAM â€“ North Surrey Spartan Nathan Tadesse crossed the finish line eight seconds before anyone else at the 2014 Fraser Valley XC Championships to win the gold medal and go into the provincial championships with a target on his back.
The Grade 12 student finished the 6.3-kilometre race with a time of 21:11.05, moving up 15 spots from last yearâ€™s race.
Tadesse said even though he had a gap crossing the finish line, he didnâ€™t do any shoulder checks.
â€œI didnâ€™t really want to look back,â€ he said. â€œYou know when there are no footsteps behind you, thereâ€™s no breathing behind you, you can tell you have a pretty good lead.â€
The Fraser Valley Champion believes he can win the provincial championship, which takes place on Saturday (Nov. 1) in Victoria.
â€œThere are some pretty good runners (from the Fraser Valley) that should place top five. On the island, Iâ€™m not sure about the runners there, but I think I have a pretty good chance to win,â€ said Tadesse.
Scott Svelander, North Surreyâ€™s cross-country coach, said the key reason for the better runs this year is because Tadesse suffered from low iron levels.
â€œHeâ€™s really, really stepped it up a lot this year,â€ the coach said. â€œHe was running anaemic most of last year. He didnâ€™t have as good of a season as he liked.â€
However, due to the late start of the school year, Tadesse went to the Stanford XC Invitational where he ran against 2,000 of the best cross-country runners in the U.S in late September.
He finished in second place, a second behind the winner.
Tadesse, who also runs middle-distance track, has been attracting the attention of universities south of the border such as Washington State, University of Portland and Northern Arizona State.
In the senior girlsâ€™ division, Semiahmoo Secondaryâ€™s track team has won another cross-country title.
Chelsea Ribeiro finished second with a time of 17:33.77, eight seconds behind Addy Townsend of Dr. Charles Best Secondary in the 4.7-kilometre race.
The Totems had six members of their team finish in the top 30 and won the team banner by 10 points.
Scott Yewchuk, Semiahmooâ€™s coach, said he was proud of the girlsâ€™ performance after two of their stronger runners were missing due to injury.
Jessica Williams and Dominika Paige were unable to run due to injuries from a car accident and another sports injury, respectively.
Because they werenâ€™t able to run the course, both girls wonâ€™t be able to participate in the provincial championships.
Seven Semi runners qualified for this weekendâ€™s provincials, and Yewchuk said their run in the Fraser Valleyâ€™s helps them for Victoria.
â€œThey were gritty and tough like we need them to be,â€ he said. â€œ(Mundy Park is) a tough course, probably the hardest course that theyâ€™ve run, but they kind of pulled through.â€
Yewchuck added this team has never lost a race theyâ€™ve entered, despite having several junior girls on the team.
For more information and full results, visit Fraservalleyxc.com.
1. Nathan Tadesse (North Surrey) â€“ 21:11.05
3. Michael Milic (Seaquam) â€“ 21:23.14
4. Connor Jackson (WRCA) â€“ 21:40.28
7. Sterling Ginther (EMS) â€“ 22:34.36
11. Riley Gray (Elgin) â€“ 23:22.69
12. Eamonn Keane (Holy Cross) â€“ 23:51.42
14. Owen Bulka (Elgin) â€“ 24:02.04
2. Chelsea Ribeiro (Semiahmoo) â€“ 17:33.77
6. Julia Greer (Semiahmoo) â€“ 18:13.27
11. Victoria Kray (Pacific Academy) â€“ 19:04.45
12. Haley Ribeiro (Semiahmoo) â€“ 19:06.18