Vincent Massey Collegiate made it a clean sweep at the varsity level of the provincial cross-country championships for the second time in four years.
The Trojans ran to victory in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions on a cold and rainy day at Spruce Woods Provincial Park on Oct. 17.
The boys, led by Darian Hole in fourth place overall and Tyler Van Schepdael in 15th, finished ahead of St. Paul’s and Kelvin.
The girls were paced by the duo of Janine Zajac and Tarina Ready — who placed third and fourth individually — and helped by 13th-place Julia Snell and 16th-place Laura Bobrowski to edge out Kelvin and St. Mary’s.
Coach Joanne Goodwin said much of the school’s cross-country and track success is owed to the culture of running and fitness in many students’ homes.
"We have active children and good parents that value the activity and encourage the children," said Goodwin, who’s been coaching at the school since the mid-1980s. "We’re blessed that way."
After a dry spell, the program took off once again when many of the runners began training with coach Andy Tough’s club, Tough Track, in addition to their usual workouts at the school.
"With Andy running his program, we’ve consistently been on the strong side," Goodwin said.
Zajac, a Grade 11 student from Whyte Ridge, said she was pleased to finish third with a personal-best time on the challenging three-kilometre course.
"I felt pretty good during the race," she said. "The weather had a bit of an impact because it was quite cold out, but it ended up not being too bad."
Zajac, whose mother, Sue, is a coach at Tough Track, said the girls’ team came into the meet looking for a win after capturing the junior varsity title a year earlier.
"There was definitely a lot more competition this year," she said. "The team banner is a big honour. There’s around 270 girls competing for countless schools."
Van Schepdael is a name found more than once on the Trojans’ roster. Triplets Tyler, Matt and Mikaela all ran at the provincials.
"It’s really cool that the guys and girls could pull off a double win," said Tyler, a Grade 11 student from Linden Ridge. "It’s pretty important to our school, and it ranks pretty high for me."
Tyler called it "pretty surreal" to know that all three of the triplets were part of the victories.
"It’s a good feeling to be part of that," added Matt, who finished 47th in the 5-kilometre boys’ race. "We had a hunch from the start we would place well."
Mikaela, who placed 47the in the girls’ individual rankings, said the toughest part of the meet was waiting to hear the official results.
"I was a little nervous," she said. "We didn’t want to be overconfident, but we knew we were either first or second."
About 28 runners take part in the school’s program, with some using cross-country workouts to supplement their main sports such as football or volleyball and others running up to six days a week between the school and Tough’s club.