In just his second year at University of British Columbia, Whitehorse’s Kieran Halliday is establishing himself as a key player on the school’s Thunderbirds cross-country team.
In the second meet of the season, the 19-year-old again finished fifth for his team, thereby contributing to the team’s final standing. (Only the top five from each team do so.)
Halliday placed 86th out of 200 runners 41st Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational in Salem, Ore., on Saturday, finishing the eight-kilometre course in 26:59.4.
With his result, and a ninth place finish by teammate Jeff Groh, the Thunderbirds placed third out of 18 American and Canadian teams.
“It feels great to be training with the team again. I’m actually living with two of them, so we eat, breathe and live cross-country right now,” said Halliday.
“It was super cool for us because on Saturday we came third overall, but we were the first team from the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), which is the division we compete in. We aren’t going to be racing against the (first and second place) teams at nationals.”
The Thunderbirds finished behind the winning team, the University of Victoria Vikes, who race in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport association, and second place’s Spokane Community College, who race in the Northwest Athletic Conference association.
Placing fourth behind UBC was the Texas Wesleyan University team, which is currently ranked second in the NAIA standings.
“We have a really strong team and we’re really looking to do well this year,” said Halliday, a computer engineering major.
Halliday placed 108th and fifth for his team to start the season at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle two weeks ago. The Thunderbird’s men’s team placed seventh in the team standings in Seattle, but that’s OK, said Halliday.
“We’ve been building up a lot slower this year – I haven’t PB’d yet this season,” he said. “We have four races left. We’re gearing up for regionals and nationals and that’s what really matters.
“At Sundodger I came fifth for the team, so I scored there too. That feels really great to be part of the team that counts points.”
The Thunderbirds’ women’s team, which has won the NAIA national title the last three years, also placed third in the team standings on Saturday.
Halliday has represented Yukon in athletics and tennis at the Canada Summer Games and Western Canada Summer Games, and in snowshoe and snowshoe-biathlon at the Arctic Winter Games, winning multiple gold medals in the latter.
Racing for St. George’s School in Vancouver, Halliday took first in the Independent Schools Association’s regional championships and then 19th at the B.C. High School Cross Country Championships, in his final year of high school in 2013.
The Thunderbirds teams will race in Bellingham, Wash., this coming weekend.
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