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Port Coquitlam runner leads Simon Fraser University to cross-country championship

Riverside Secondary grad Olivia Willett will lead the Simon Fraser University women's cross-country team to the NCAA Div. II national championships in Florida on Nov. 20.
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Port Coquitlam's Olivia Willett leads her Simon Fraser University women's cross-country team to the NCAA Div. II national championships in Florida on Nov. 20, 2021.

Port Coquitlam’s Olivia Willett did it again.

The Simon Fraser University (SFU) senior finished second at the NCAA Division II West cross-country championships in Monmouth, Ore. on Saturday (Nov. 6), leading her women’s team to its first regional title.

SFU placed all five of its runners in the top 30 of a field of 171 competitors.

"The women continued their domination," said head coach Brit Townsend. "Our girls put their heads down and battled the muddy course to come out ahead."

Willett, a Riverside Secondary grad who won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in October, completed the six-kilometre course at Western Oregon University’s Ash Creek Preserve in 21:19.7.

That was only 5.3 seconds behind winner Kaela Dishion from Stanislaus State (California).

After SFU’s runner set a strong pace at the start, Willett was one of four runners that separated themselves from the pack at about the halfway point of the race.

With 400 metres to go, she tried to reel Dishion in from the front but her rival proved to have a stronger kick over the last 200 metres.

Other top finishers for SFU included:

  • Kate Cameron = 13th
  • Emily Chilton = 26th
  • Alis Andrews-Paul = 27th
  • Megan Roxby 29th

Willett and her teammates now head cross country — by plane this time — to compete at the NCAA Div. II championships in Florida on Nov. 20, 2021.

Locally, Gleneagle Secondary senior Adam Crespi finished 10th in the senior boys' event at the BC High School cross-country provincial championships last weekend at Jericho Beach in Vancouver.

Crespi, who just started running last year as part of a school project, covered the course in 16:56, just 53 seconds behind winner Connor Nichol of Elgin Park Secondary.

Cole Wheeler of Dr. Charles Best Secondary finished 14th.

In the senior girls' race, Riverside’s Ella Madsen finished 10th, while Erica Barnard was ninth in the junior girls' event.