Taking it all in stride, and then some, is just what cross-country runners Nathan Wadhwani and Addy Townsend do.
The two posted the fastest times at the District cross country championships last week in their respective categories and pulled away with the Gale Sayers Award as the top senior male and female runners.
It also gives the pair a boost of momentum heading into today’s (Wednesday) Fraser Valley championships in Abbotsford.
Townsend locked up the top female time by establishing a new personal best of 17.31 minutes on the familiar, 4.7-kilometre Mundy Park course.
For Wadhwani, the win came with a near-two minute lead over his nearest challenger, brother Isaac, also running for Terry Fox.
Wadhwani finished the boys 6.3-km course in a time of 21:43 minutes, while his brother placed second in a time of 23:39.
“I had ran a number of mini-meets on the course before, so I knew it well,” said Wadhwani. “Me and my brother train together so I kind of knew he’d be pushing me.”
It was just another feather in the teen’s cap, coming on the heels of a strong eighth place showing at the Standford Cross Country Invitational last week in California. In that elite U.S. high school competition, the Fox runner completed the five-km course in 15:26 minutes.
Earlier, he topped the South Whidby Invitational, and last month came second at the Sunfair Invitational in Yakima, Wash. — setting the second-fastest time in the race’s 40-year history in the process. Running south of the border hasn’t diminished his desire to win on home turf, however.
“In Canada, cross-country isn’t as big as in the U.S. — at Stanford they had something like 3,000 athletes,” he noted. “I definitely prefer to push the pace… I don’t like it when things are slowed down for someone to win with a late kick.
“If anyone’s going with me I’m always trying to keep the pace as quick as possible.”
For Townsend, the district win was all about setting the table for the big races ahead.
“It was pretty good and a personal best, too, by about five or six seconds,” noted the Dr. Charles Best student athlete. “I wasn’t actually feeling 100 per cent before the race but once it started it kind of went away. It was mostly nerves, I guess.”
Townsend, in Grade 11, finished ahead of Grade 12 Olivia Willett of Riverside, who closed out in 17:55 minutes.
In the girls event, Townsend grabbed the lead early but was aware of a handful of runners behind her most of the way. She gained some breathing room in the second half.
“At the first lap of two kilometres (Willett) was pretty close and had me worried, but on the straight away I really got my stride out and that’s where I get my momentum.”
Winning the Sayers Award — named after a retired Port Moody teacher and a huge proponent of cross country — was a great bonus, said Townsend.
“It was really nice,” she noted. “I actually have gone to school with (Sayers’) son since elementary and she’s always at the meets, cheering us on.”
“It’s pretty cool,” added Wadhwani. “It’s the first time they’ve awarded it so it’s definitely an honour.”
Now the aim will be to convert a strong showing in the districts against a larger field at this weekend’s Fraser Valleys in Abbotsford.
“I’m really excited and hoping for a top-five (finish),” said Townsend. “I’ll just do my best and focus on the girls ahead of me.”
Here are the District’s top-10 results for both girls and boys:
BOYS, Senior — 1st, Nathan Wadhwani, TF (21:43); 2nd Isaac Wadhwani, TF (23:39); 3rd Corey McTavish, HW (25:16); 4th Geric Coutts, HW; 5th Malcolm Borsoi, HW; 6th Ryan Stein, HW; 7th Pasha Alvani, HW; 8th Richard Groenewald, GL; 9th Ben Lockwood, HW; 10th Sam Willett, RI. Junior — 1st Nathaniel Kang, PI (24:42); 2nd Ethan Kazemir, RIV (25:06); 3rd Matt Fogliato, PM (25:18); 4th Joel Ahn, CB; 5th Luke Trainor, AC; 6th Josh Spence, HW; 7th Foster Dolling, RI; 8th Kearro Chow, PI; 9th Tyril Lauzon-Burcombe, PM; 10th Toren Dohfer, AC.
GIRLS, Senior — 1st Olivia Willett, RI (17:55); 2nd Ninke Kruger, HW (20:23); 3rd Carlie Robinson, RI (20:31); 4th Alex Patey, CB; 5th Alyssa Lum, CB; 6th Jamie Kukowicz, CB; 7th Michelle Samaei, PI; 8th Grace Tsang, CE; 9th Monty Escobedo, HW; 10th Elizabeth Coady, AC. Junior — 1st Addy Townsend, CB (17:31); 2nd Mikaela Smart, AC (19:48); 3rd Gabby Thompson, CB (20:29); 4th Reina Cho, CB; 5th Jamie Sicotte, CB; 6th Amanda Stanyer, RI; 7th Breanna Murko, RI; 8th Shiho Ishikawa, RI; 9th Jessie Wong, PM; 10th Idrina Bouwmeester, RI.
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