At the Zone 8 High School Cross Country Running Championships, held in Fort St John on Sunday October 21, TRSS was able to enter both a six-person girls? team and a five-person boys? team. This is an achievement in itself for a small school, and possibly a first in the history of Tumbler Ridge Secondary School. All athletes delivered of their best, posting some outstanding individual and team results. The result is that no fewer than five TRSS students will be part of the Zone 8 team to compete in the BC Provincial Championships in Victoria on November 3rd.

BC is divided into ten zones, and the top fifteen male and female athletes from each zone, from Grade 8-12, get to qualify for the provincial championships. Zone 8 extends from Burns Lake in the west, Williams Lake in the south, Prince George in the centre, through Mackenzie and the entire Peace-Liard region. Competition is therefore extremely tough.

The races were held on the challenging, hilly Beatton Park trails, with the boys running seven kilometers and the girls four kilometers. Mr Ferguson kindly gave up his time to drive the team to Fort St John on the school bus.

In the girls? race Carina Helm led the way for Tumbler Ridge with a sixth place overall finish, and third in the Grade 8 category, in a time of 14-11. Not far behind was Kelsey Legault, who ran the best race of her career to finish in 9th place (4th in the Grade 8 category). Natalie Sharman?s dedicated training paid off, as she ran strongly to gain her berth on the bus to provincials with a thirteenth place finish (2nd in the Grade 9 age group).

The three other female runners performed creditably. Crystal Fry got the ribbon for fourth place in the Grade 9 category (22nd overall), Tiffany Hetenyi finished strongly in 33rd, and Jessica Cameron showed her potential with a 45th place finish, pushing her physical limits in a testimony to her future potential. Karli Watt, one of the stalwarts of the team, but unable to take part on the day, was there to cheer on her team mates.

Till the very end, the TR girls? team was in with a chance of a top-two team spot, which would have allowed these runners to go to Victoria in the team category. It was agonizingly close (83 points to 80), but third place out of six very talented teams from the region sends a powerful warning: the Tumbler girls? team is young, strong, and improving.

This was evident too in the amazing performance of Laura Sharman, not permitted to compete officially because she is in Grade 7. One of the most talented local runners, she ran unofficially, and her time would have been good enough for at least 8th place. In 2008 she will be a superb addition to the team.

Two Tumbler boys qualified for Provincials. Both George Saul and Daniel Helm have been nursing minor knee injuries in recent weeks, and therefore have not been able to train to perfection. This did not stop them from giving everything they had, and claiming 5th and 10th positions respectively (and 3rd and 4th for the Senior age group). George?s time of 26-46 was well earned, as he ran with passion and determination.

One of this season?s finds, Hiroki Tanashita, grabbed 7th in this age division, in 29th place overall. Andy Smith, in his first high school cross country running season, ran most of the race with Hiroki, and was able to claim 28th place (8th in the Grade 8 category). And Braden Watt showed off his vastly improved form this year with a strong and solid 38th place finish. The boys? team event was also tightly contested, with the Tumbler boys? team also just being pushed into third place.

TRSS Principal, Mrs.Treit, commented, ?I am very proud of all these athletes, and those who have qualified for Provincials. I know they have worked very hard on their training, and this is very exciting for the school and for Tumbler Ridge.?

Fantastic team spirit characterized the cross country running season, and for their coaches (Linda Helm, Birgit Sharman and Charles Helm from the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society) it was a great privilege to work with athletes of such enthusiasm and dedication. Cross country running is often a tough sport, that teaches athletes many life skills and prepares them to achieve in life. Going to Provincials is a whole new level of running to get used to, and these promising five athletes are guaranteed to do their best in Victoria for themselves, their families, their school and their community.