Hannah Bennison laughs when revealing she’s 90 pounds and almost five feet.
She may still be growing, but Bennison certainly has a body born to run. The Grade 10 VSS Panther won the Subway B.C. Cross-Country senior girls championship race Saturday in Victoria.
Bennison finished the 4.3-kilometre hilly course 17 seconds ahead of 2012 champion Nicole Hutchinson, a senior from Sentinel in West Vancouver. Kyra McNulty of Kelowna was third. There was a field of 225.
“I was actually leading from start to finish,” said the bubbly Bennison, taking a break from piano studies before dinner Monday night. “It was a clear and sunny day and I didn’t really have any expectations. I just wanted to run my best and feel good with my effort.”
Bennison, 10th at provincials last season, handily won all of her North Zone and Okanagan championship races in the strike-shortened season. She won the B.C. Athletics club championships in the 15-year-old girls 3,000 last weekend in Abbotsford.
After an impressive victory at this summer’s Sundodger Invitational, at the University of Washington, she was ranked No. 1 going into the final race of the high school season but expected to have a tough challenge from Hutchinson.
“I started running in Grade 8 just for fun,” said Bennison, now coached by Nate Reiter of the Okanagan Athletics Club in Kelowna.
“I’d eventually like to get a scholarship and run at university.”
She was previously coached by John Machuga and Brent Helland of the Vernon AAA Track and Field Club, and Mark Bendall at VSS.
Bennison, who plays the guitar for kicks, will compete in Athletics Canada’s Nationals at Jericho Beach, Nov. 29, in Vancouver.
Nathan Tadesse of the North Surrey Spartans took the senior boys race with a 12-second win over Sean Bergman of Kelowna. West Vancouver’s Rowan Doherty was third.
Nanaimo’s Dover Bay Secondary won the senior boys team title in decisive fashion with four runners in the top 17 of the 225-man field, led by Thomas Oxland who finished 10th.
Claremont of Victoria was second, with Vancouver’s St. George’s in third.
West Point Grey Academy came away with the girls team title with its top five athletes all placing in the race’s top 43, led by Leiah Kirsh in 23rd place, followed by Sentinel in second and Semiahmoo of Surrey in third.