Middle-distance running is Emma Balazs’ specialty, so she wouldn’t have been happy with any less than a first-place result in a high school event.
On Saturday, she got the result she was seeking at the North Central District zone cross country running championships at Otway. Balazs crossed the finish line first in the girls’ 4.5 km run. The Kelly Road Secondary Grade 10 student crossed the finish line at 18 minutes and 16.40 seconds (18:16.40). Runner-up Hilary Desmarais, a student from Vanderhoof’s Nechako Valley Secondary School, finished second with a time of 18:33.70.
Cool temperatures left students trying to keep warm before the boys’ and girls’ races began.
“My hands were numb the whole time,” Balazs said. “Once you start running, the only part that’s cold is your hands, but it’s pretty good. It’s better than too hot.”
Desmarais finished a mere three tenths of a second ahead of third-place finisher and fellow Nechako Valley student Cierra Verduzco (18:34.00).
The race saw participants take two laps of an Otway course. Balazs said she knew she could build a sizeable lead when the second lap began.
“I think I stayed the same and they went slower.”
Balazs topped a field of 69 participants. Nechako Valley was the top overall girls team.
In the boys’ event, a 6.5 km race, D.P. Todd Secondary Grade 12 student Robby McDougall finished first among 52 participants. He completed the course in 25:01.08. Runner-up Jack Carrigan of Dawson Creek’s South Peace Secondary clocked in at 25:22.20.
The boys race was a three-lap event.
“I definitely pushed it on the last lap,” McDougall said. “I really surged down those hills.”
Carrigan was right on McDougall’s tail after they completed Lap 2.
“I was surprised. I didn’t know anybody was there,” McDougall said. “All of a sudden, there he is.”
South Peace Secondary was the top male team.
McDougall began training in high school cross country running with Brian Martinson while a student at the former Lakewood Junior Secondary. After graduation from Lakewood Junior in Grade 10, he switched over to D.P. Todd.
McDougall and Balazs qualify for high school cross country provincials Nov. 6 in Victoria. In the girls’ race, Balazs will try and improve on a ninth place finish in 2009. McDougall finished 21st in the male category last year.
“I’m thinking at least top 10 again. I hope I’ll get better than (ninth),” Balazs said.