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

Teenage girl, 17, accused of stabbing girl, 16, in Surrey

Victim’s injuries not life-threatening

Fledgling Surrey City Orchestra tunes up for showcase concert Friday

Conductor Stuart Martin’s four-year goal is to build a core group of about 60 Surrey-based musicians

Fraser Health to buy two private MRI clinics in Surrey, Abbotsford

New clinics will provide 2,000 more MRIs by fiscal year-end

Safe Surrey Coalition opposes removing any property from ALR

McCallum and Pettigrew take issue with a Port Kells proposal to exclude property from the Agricultural Land Reserve

Retired football kicker wanted play hockey as a kid, but ‘it just wasn’t in the budget’

Surrey-raised Paul McCallum now backs KidSport and its annual fundraiser set for Friday

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

Fraser Valley horse trainer suing feed mill after death of five animals

Alicia Harper seeking $500,000 to $1 million in losses and damages from Hi-Pro Feeds

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

It’s shaping up to be quite a finish in CFL’s West Division standings

The Calgary Stampeders (10-2) are first, four points ahead of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-5).

Twice-convicted killer set to inherit multimillion-dollar company found guilty of father’s murder

A Toronto judge ruled that Dellen Millard is guilty of first-degree murder in death of his father,

Campaign seeks to add Farsi to B.C. school curriculum options

Group wants Farsi added to list of nine languages in policy covering second language requirements

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Most Read