Runners take off from the start line of a senior boys cross-country race at Crescent Park last fall. The new season begins this week.

South Surrey cross-country runners lace up

Earl Marriott expected to challenge for provincial podium spot later this fall.

The sneakers of young Semiahmoo Peninsula runners are about to get muddy.

The high-school cross-country season got underway this week – the first race on the Surrey calendar was staged Thursday afternoon at Crescent Park – as teams from across South Surrey lace up and take aim at a provincial cross-country title, which will be decided later in the fall.

South Surrey runners often fare well in cross-country – last year, the Semiahmoo Totems’ senior girls team placed third in B.C., while Earl Marriott’s Jaxon Mackie won a junior boys title, among other top finishers – and this year could bring similar results, according to a handful of coaches from South Surrey.

And the Earl Marriott Mariners may be the cream of the crop, if the aforementioned coaches are to be believed.

“They’re the team to beat this year, I think… They’ll be very good,” said White Rock Christian Academy cross-country coach Davey Gin.

Gin’s praise for the opposition in no way discredits his own crew of runners, which he said numbers about 25 and includes a handful of talents at the Grade 8 and 9 level.

“It’s a bit of a building year, with a lot of our runners being younger,” Gin said.

“But it’s looking good. We have a big team, (considering) we’re such a small school.”

Likewise, Elgin Park Orcas cross-country coach Greg Worsley – who is also the Surrey and Fraser Valley co-ordinator for the sport – said his 2016 team is larger than usual in numbers.

And while Earl Marriott may be the prohibitive early-season favourite, Worsley said “we should have a clearer idea” of which schools are the ones to beat after the first race or two.

Earl Marriott’s senior teams boast a deep roster of talent – buoyed by a few newcomers – but will be led on the girls side by cross-country and track-and-field runner Georgia Ginther, whom EMS athletic director Taylor Clift predicted “will be a force” on the trails this fall.

In addition to Ginther, the Mariners’ senior girls team includes many members of last year’s banner-winning track-and-field squad from last spring.

“We have two very competitive senior teams,” EMS cross-country coach Scott Kent told Peace Arch News.

“Both the boys and girls teams are very strong and should make a run at a top-three finish at (provincials).”

Kent said his team “lucked out” when he discovered that over the summer, the sibling tandem of Dawson and Hayley Ribiero – formerly of Semiahmoo Secondary – moved into the EMS catchment area and switched schools.

“They’re two of our top runners, so it really gives us a lot of depth – you need five (quality) runners on each team if you want to finish (high) at provincials,” Kent said. “Though it is still a little bit of a shock to see them in green (Marriott’s school colours).”

Kent was also excited at the prospect of getting Mackie back into his cross-country lineup. The Grade 11 runner and junior champ has been sidelined after suffering a serious ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury playing soccer that required surgery.

“He says he’s back training so hopefully he should be able to get back to a couple races,” Kent said.

“He’s really our dark horse – if he is healthy, we could have two senior boys in the top 10 at provincials.”

B.C. Cross-Country Championships are to be held Nov. 5 in Peachland.

Surrey runners will be busy in the next few weeks. In addition to yesterday’s race – hosted by Elgin Park – a second race is set for Crescent Park on Thursday, Sept. 28, this time hosted by White Rock Christian. A race at Bear Creek Park is set for Oct. 6, and Fleetwood Park will host the final event on the Surrey calendar Oct. 20.

Just Posted

Mother’s death causes singer to cancel Surrey Fusion Festival performance

Revised schedule released with Mankirt Aulakh replacing Sharry Mann

Toilet, bathtub among junk dumped behind Scott Road thrift store, costing operators money

‘I wish people would appreciate what we do, and not dump their stuff,’ frustrated manager says

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

TONIGHT: Eagle Eyes to headline Concerts for the Pier in White Rock

East Beach event to feature The Fab Fourever

New day camp for Surrey children living with cancer, blood disorders

West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation running another session at Surrey school

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Most Read