Last year Yukon was represented by just two runners at the B.C. Cross Country Championships, by three in 2014 and only one in 2013.
This year the territory sent a team of 13 runners and with the big team came big results.
Yukoners won two divisions at the championships held at Beban Park in Nanaimo on Saturday.
“It was so cool,” said Dawson City’s Jack Amos. “When I first heard I was going to go I looked at results from previous years and saw I had a pretty good chance, so I was pretty pumped hoping I could place — hoping I could win. I guess all the training paid off and I ended up claiming the title.”
Racing his first provincials, Amos claimed the midget male title out of a field of 32 runners. The 15-year-old took first place with a time of nine minutes and 26 seconds on the three-kilometre course.
Amos was in the pack for the first third of the race until he and the other top two competitors broke away. Amos took the lead, by his estimation, about half way or three-quarters through the race. He slipped into second on an uphill but hung tight with his competitor until they reached the opening of the field. “That’s when I kicked and left him behind,” said Amos.
Amos won three medals in snowshoeing at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Greenland, placed first overall at the 39th annual Midnight Dome Race in his hometown in July, pocketed three medals at the Jack Brow Memorial Track and Field Meet in Kelowna, B.C., before winning a title at the Yukon Cross Country Championships in September.
His season might not be done yet. With his first place finish in Nanaimo, Athletics Yukon head coach Don White will submit an application for him to run at nationals to the hosting organization, Athletics Ontario.
“Don said that considering I won, the chances of me getting to go are pretty good,” said Amos. “But the thing is, they don’t have a midget division, so I’d have to run in the U18 category. So that’s going to be pretty stiff competition.”
“Because he won in B.C., when we submit his name we shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting him up an age group,” said White.
White was Yukon’s other champ on Saturday. The 66-year-old placed first in the males 65-69 division, running the eight-kilometre course in 36:19.
He suspects the Yukon team in Nanaimo is the largest ever to compete at the championship.
“Dan Daniels took down a fairly large group in the late ‘80s when he was still living here and was president of Athletics Yukon, but I think his group topped out at eight,” said White. “So I think it’s probably the largest group Yukon has sent to the B.C. Cross Country Championships.”
“We managed to secure a fair amount of athlete development funding from the Yukon government … and the travel assistance we get from Lotteries Yukon is really helping,” he added.
Whitehorse’s Lindsay Carson placed fourth in the highly competitive senior women’s event. The 27-year-old, who placed seventh last year and third in 2014, completed the six-kilometre course in 20:53, 19 seconds behind the bronze medalist and 36 seconds behind the winner.
“I am pleased with my fourth place finish and happy to be a part of a big Yukon team presence at the B.C. champs,” said Carson in a message to the News.
Carson is slated to race at the national championships, this year the qualifier for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. She has twice raced for Team Canada at the biennial worlds, placing 59th at the 2014 championships in Guiyang, China. Nationals will take place Nov. 26 in Kingston, Ont.
Whitehorse’s Naosie Dempsey was edged off a podium spot in Nanaimo, placing fourth in the 13-year-old males division, completing the three-kilometre course in 10:39.
Teammates Isaac O’Brien and Nathyn Sutton placed eighth and 11th, respectively, in the 12-year-old males division.
Jerome McIntyre sped to fifth in males 50-54.
Yukon was represented by three runners in 17-year-old males. Joe Parker took 28th, Darby McIntyre 31st and Brahm Hyde 52nd.
Other Yukon results include Hannah Shier 27th in F17, Iliana Stehelin 28th in F15, and Kate Crocker 29th in F15.
Though Athletics Yukon sent down a team of 13 runners, there was a 14th Yukoner on the trails. Whitehorse’s Zoe Painter raced for Thompson River University and placed 21st in junior female.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org