By Bruce Fuhr,
The Nelson Daily Sports
It didn’t matter if the opposition was from the East or West Kootenay this season Shawn DeGroot has managed to overcome roots, rocks and mud to finish ahead of the pack.
So obviously the next test was a trip to the B.C. High School Cross Country Championships.
DeGroot, 16, did not disappoint his followers as the LVR runner finished 24th overall at the recent championship event at Beaver Lake near Victoria.
“Ya, I’m happy with the result,” the Grade 11 DeGroot said when asked about his finish. “I did a lot of training for provincials and it paid off.”
“My goal was to finish in the top 25, so I guess I just barely achieved my goal,” he added.
One of biggest supporters of DeGroot is coach Jon Francis, who was definitely impressed with the top-25 result.
“It’s the best Kootenay finish since I started coaching in 2002,” said LVR and Salmo coach. “(Shawn) had an incredible race.”
When DeGroot runs in the Kootenays the field generally consists of 20-30 racers. At the provincials, there were more than 300 runners at the start line.
“It was crazy at the start,” explained the 5’9”, 140-pound DeGroot. “There were about 300 runners in mass start that narrows down about 50 meters away. I didn’t really have that great of start and got sandwiched in the pack.”
DeGroot found the going tough stuck in the middle for the first lap of the 6.5 kilometer race.
However, during the second lap the pack thinned out allowing DeGroot to put the feet in overdrive.
“Eventually I made my way up where I wanted to be,” said DeGroot, having to run in cool, drizzly conditions over a muddy track. “The first kilometer I couldn’t move anywhere.”
DeGroot posted a 51st place finish in 2009 along with an amazing sixth-place spot in 2008 in the Junior Boy’s race.
The provincial meet concludes the cross-country season for DeGroot. But the competitive season doesn’t end there.
DeGroot simply shifts gears from muddy ground to ice white snow as a member of the B.C. Nordic Development Team.
“Hopefully the snow will fall soon so I’ll be able to start training,” he said.
DeGroot’s goal this season is the Canadian Nationals set for Canmore, Alta., in March.
Results of other racers from West Kootenay School include:
Lukas Smith, J.V. Humphries, Kaslo, 142; Steven Hernandez, Mount Sentinel, 158; Hunter Stanway, JVH 202; Luca Stattler, L.V. Rogers, 214; Eli Bukowski, JVH 222; Eli Cogswell, JVH 251; Tyler Exner, LVR 260; Young Jinyu, LVR, 261; Nico Boelter, LVR 263.
Girl’s results had Ellie Hewat, JVH, 170; Kiraya Spencer, LVR, 193; Darya Huser, Salmo, 240; Danica Long, LVR, 243; Kia Weir, Mt. Sentinel 259.