Hannah Bennison of the VSS Panthers runs for gold at the B.C. cross country race in West Kelowna.

Hannah Bennison of the VSS Panthers runs for gold at the B.C. cross country race in West Kelowna.

Bennison three-peats in provincials

Another year, another gold medal for Hannah Bennison.

Morning Star Staff

Another year, another gold medal for Hannah Bennison.

Bennison won her third straight B.C. High School Cross Country Running Championships title Saturday in West Kelowna.

Bennison, a Grade 12 VSS student, three-peated by ruling the senior girls division 4.5-kilomtre race in 17 minutes and 50 seconds, finishing four seconds ahead of Christina Sevsek of the Clayton Heights Night Riders of Surrey. Julie Sevsek of the Riders bagged the bronze medal in 18:11.

“I knew than Christina and Julie would really be gunning for me today,” Bennison told Athletics Illustrated. “They’re really fit and dedicated runners. I had to dig deep at the end to maintain my lead.”

Bennison was 10th overall in Grade 9. Only two other athletes have ever won three straight provincial gold medals.

“To win a provincial championship is a massive achievement, to repeat as champion is amazing, and to three-peat takes a true super-hero,” said VSS Panther coach Mark Bendall.

Next up for Bennison is the Canadian Club Championships, Nov. 26, in Kingston Ont., where she’ll run under the banner of the Okanagan Athletics and attempt to defend her Canadian Junior Cross Country title.

A top-six result will qualify her for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, in Kampala, Uganda, in March.

Samantha Loewen of the Panthers had her best championship ever, cracking the top-100 for the first time, finishing 93rd, in 22:35, in a field of 223.

Grade 10 Mia Bennison, Hannah’s sister, won her race against the top 197 junior athletes, in 19:04. She was eight seconds faster than Sophie Konrad of Carson Graham Eagles of North Vancouver and 12 seconds ahead of Annika Ariano of the Seaton Sonics. Natalya Ariano of Seaton was 27th in 21:11.

Braden Kersey, a Grade 10 runner from Seaton, placed 10th in the junior boys race, in 17:44.

His top-10 finish led the Seaton team to a 12th place finish. The other five Sonic runners are in Grade 8: Gage Stoll in 20:23, Torin Andrews in 20:57, Ethan Northcott in 21:02, Jack Screen in 21:12, Ty Barton in 21:55.

Logan MacDonald of the Sardis Falcons struck gold in 17:09. There was a field of 202.

The Bennison sisters also sparkled at the  B.C. Athletics provincials the previous weekend in Nanaimo.

Hannah Bennison, running up one age category in the junior women’s division, beat all first- and second-year university athletes. Her time of 20:59, over the six-kilometre course, placed her fifth overall.

Fourteen-year-old sister Mia, competing in the midget girls division, completed the 3.0-km course in 10:26, beating all 14- and 15-year-old girls and matching her sister with three wins from three races over a 10-day stretch.

Annika Ariano finished strong in the bronze medal position, while Natalya Ariano put in a solid performance to end up 16th.  On the male side, Kersey had a very strong finishing kick, but ran just short of real estate to take the bronze.

Said Vernon AAA club coach John Machuga:  “All five Vernon runners had great starts and knew how to pace themselves extremely well.  They all had very strong finishes.”