Surrey runners – including a handful from the Semiahmoo Peninsula – were front and centre Saturday in Abbotsford, at 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships.
Elgin Park Secondary alum Luc Bruchet – who ran for Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – finished second in the senior men’s 10-km race, bringing his reign as national champion to an end.
Bruchet entered the race as the two-time defending champ, having won last year in Kingston, Ont. and also in 2017. The 28-year-old also won the event in 2013 when it was held in Vancouver’s Jericho Park.
This year, Bruchet found himself in a lead group with two other runners, last year’s silver medallist Mike Tate and 2018 U Sports cross-country champ Connor Black. Each took turns leading the way, but as they approached the final hill, Tate pulled away from Bruchet and Black.
— Athletics Canada (@AthleticsCanada) November 30, 2019
After crossing the line, Tate said it “was really big to get the win” while lauding both Bruchet and Black as “incredible competitors.”
In a post-race interview, Bruchet gave credit to Tate for his performance, adding that he had trouble finding an extra gear to catch him on the last ascent.
“Anybody who is looking for their first national title, they definitely want it… not that I was complacent by any means, but Mike had the fire burning and he ran extremely well, so congratulations to him,” Bruchet said.
“The legs felt good… I liked my chances. That hill though, that hill is (tough)… I just gave Mike too much space. I thought I was closing on him but I just left it a little bit too late after giving him some space.”
Also landing on the podium at Abbotsford’s Clearbrook Park was Surrey runner Jaiveer Tiwana – a Fleetwood Park Secondary student and member of Surrey’s Coastal Track Club – who won gold in the six-km under-18 boys race.
Team BC also won gold in the U18 girls overall team rankings, with Southridge School’s Maya Kobylanski and former Ocean Athletics Track member Madelyn Bonikowsky – who now lives in the Kootenays – among the five members of that team.
Individually, Kobylanski also won bronze in the U18 girls four-km race, finishing in a time of 14 minutes, 20.18 seconds – just 12 seconds back of Bonikowsky, who won gold.
Tiwana finished the six-km U18 race in a time of 18:42.5 – four seconds ahead of the second-place runner. His win came on the same course where he captured a provincial title on Nov. 2. The next fastest B.C. runner was South Surrey’s Jeremiah Mackie, who placed 12th.
Coastal Track head coach Scott Kent – also the track-and-field coach at Earl Marriott Secondary – called Tiwana’s victory “an amazing accomplishment for him,” while adding that he’s only ran competitively for four years.
“He coasted the last 50 metres with his hands in the air, because he knew he’d won,” Kent added. “He was pretty excited, and we all were.”
On a cold day on hard ground, Tiwana ran a race similar to the one he ran en route to gold at high school provincials early last month.
“Our strategy was exactly same, for him to make his move on the hill, the same spot as last time, with about (one kilometre) to go,” his coach revealed.
– with files from Tom Zillich