West Point Grey Academy’s Audrey Warner capped her perfect season by racing to a first-place finish in the girls independent zone cross-country championship.
Warner, 16, won all four cross-country meets this fall and on Wednesday afternoon at Jericho Park broke ahead of the pack to continue her winning streak. She clocked in at 15 minutes and 18 seconds on a 4.2 kilometre course.
“I’m really happy and I’m so glad that we did so well as a team,” she said. “I’m excited for B.C.’s.”
Warner took gold and WPGA stacked the podium. Sophie Dodd finished second in 15:53 and Leiah Kirsh followed in 16 minutes flat for third.
The sun was shining at the beachside park, but wisps of fog settled between the trees, and dense, low-hanging fog completely obscured downtown Vancouver.
Warner, with her team colours painted on her cheeks, qualified with the WPGA girls team for the provincial championship. They won back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011 before being displaced last year by Semiahmoo.
Warner said winning back the B.C. championship is a goal. “Definitely a top-three standing and gold would be amazing.”
The Grade 12 student finished 21st overall in the province last year despite not racing a single regular season meet. She had a concussion and wasn’t cleared to train until the only meet that remained was the provincial qualifier. She finished in the top five.
The harriers at the Point Grey campus run the trails at Jericho and Pacific Spirit Park, open their training season in Whistler and travel to meets in Oregon, Washington and California. Having fun is a team commitment and road trips mean the athletes build friendships — Warner and Dodd are especially close friends. On a roster of 35, the four Grade 12 girls keep their team spirit tight.
“Audrey and Sophie […] make a point of trying to bond with the 11s because it’s a small grad group,” said the team’s coach and WPGA teacher Sean Dawson. “They make a point of putting themselves out there for the younger girls.”
The close-knit team puts an dual emphasis on hard work and having a good time, said Warner, and the balance they’ve struck translates to success on the race course.
The cross-country coach works the WPGA runners on the trails and hills around the campus, building aerobic capacity with interval training and uphill sprints.
Warner believes she can crack the top 10 at the B.C. championship Nov. 2 in Langley at Aldergrove Lake Regional Park. Her smooth gait and stamina all contribute to an efficient economy of running, said Dawson.
He’s taught the athletes more than an efficient stride.
“Mr. Dawson taught me that no mater how hard practices are, they’re always supposed to be fun. That’s the most important thing,” said Warner. “Our team has done so well because we work hard but we also have fun.”
Senior Independent boys results, Oct. 22 at Jericho Park on an approximately 6.3 km course:
1. William Hoy, Vancouver College – 12:31
2. Kieran Halliday, St. George’s – 12:51
3. Joshua Juno, St. Thomas More – 21.51
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