Competing and winning in the 2022 Cross Country Running Zone Championships is a hard enough challenge even in the best circumstances.
But no obstacle was too great for Camrose’s William Brager, who took home first place in the senior boys six-kilometre run. Just a day after returning home from Italy, he finished well ahead of his competition with a time of 22:18.28.
“I just got back from Italy yesterday so I’m a bit tired but it was a good race. I felt good,” he said.
The zone championships were held in Red Deer at Riverbend Golf Recreation Area with the top 18 competitors from each race qualifying for provincials next Saturday at Enoch First Nation, North Central. During the day-long competition, 36 schools attended and approximately 266 students ran in all the races.
This was Brager’s first time competing on this specific course and he said it was challenging going up some of the hills even though he’s used to that type of terrain. He’s been competing for the last five years and placed first in a race earlier this season.
“I was hoping to finish first but I was having doubts because I just got back from Italy. I’m exhausted because I was up at 3 a.m. this morning but I felt really good today, better than I thought I was going to this morning,” he said.
“The whole run I was thinking to myself ‘he’s right behind me,’ just for motivation to run faster even though I knew I was gaining ground.”
Fellow senior competitor Stettler’s Kate Bradford won the senior girls’ five-kilometre run in 20:51.06 just one second ahead of Morgan Tiede.
Bradford said it was fun to compete in such a tight race.
“Those ones are fun when it’s close at the end to do that it feels good,” she said. “Right at the finish, we both sprinted and I just got a couple of steps on her.”
The course is familiar to her after last year both zone championships and provincials were held at Riverbend. In her third time running on the course she took full advantage after training for the season through the summer. Before this race, Bradford had competed in three races for her school this year but last season she finished third in this same race. She also placed fifth in provincials last year and is excited to see where she finishes next week.
She’s competed since she was three years old and hopes to continue running after her senior year of high school.
Many of her fellow runners have competed against her in many races since she began the sport and have become friends over that time. She said it’s fun to cheer them on as well.
Stettler head coach Nicola Solick said she’s super proud of how Bradford performed on Wednesday.
“She knew she’d finish probably in the top three but wasn’t expecting that top place. She’s somebody that trains 12 months of the year and does put a lot of pressure on herself. I was very happy that she was able to pull out front,” Solick said.
Stettler had a great event as Solick said six out of the eight athletes they brought to Red Deer will be heading to provincials.
“It’s been a great day. I’m really proud of them.”
The results of the 2022 Cross Country Zone Championships are as follows:
The 4A Zone Team Championship was won by Lindsay Thurber, with Hunting Hills coming second and Notre Dame in third.
Junior girls’ four km: (1) Mariam Hamaoui Wetaskiwin Comp., 17:18.44; (2) Kate Kungel, Hay Lakes, 17:28.03; (3) Makena Victor Notre Dame, 17:35.09.
INT girls’ five km: (1) Annika Erickson, Hunting Hills, 22:08.26; (2) Laurissa Mews, St. Dominic Catho, 23:00.02; (3) Amelia Roberts, Lindsay Thurber, 23:22.26.
Senior girls’ five km: (1) Kate Bradford, Wm E Hay, 20:51.06; (2) Morgan Tiede, Blessed Sacramen, 20:52.28; (3) Madison Wiens, St. Joseph, 22:43.59.
Junior boys’ four km: (1) Brady Keller, Lacombe, 13:15.68; (2) Stefan Oprea, Wm E Hay, 13:35.91; (3) Jack Steeves, Ponoka Secondary, 14:50.97.
INT boys’ five km: (1) Wacey Smith, Bentley, 19:55.81; (2) Matthew Searle, Camrose Comp, 20:10.81; (3) Ayden Cook, Lindsay Thurber, 20:22.91.
Senior boys’ six kilometre: (1) William Brager, Camrose Comp, 22:18.28; (2) Wilson Cross, Wetaskiwin Comp, 23:23.06; (3) Kensea Aaron, Camrose Comp, 23:53.50.