Kaz Bannister running hard in the 200 metres. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Prestigious B.C. Games track events test Chemainus Secondary girls

Banner year for Bannister, Woodruff polishes her skills in the pentathlon

Track and field is always one of the marquee events at the B.C. Summer Games and two Chemainus Secondary School students found themselves in the middle of the intense action during the 2018 Cowichan Games at the Cowichan Sportsplex in Duncan.

Kaz Bannister of Thetis Island anchored the girls Zone 6 (Vancouver Island-Central Coast) team to a silver medal in the 4×100 relay while finishing fifth in the prestigious 100 metre final and ninth in the 200 metres.

Bannister was pleased with the performance of the relay team, especially since she had to overcome some pain from shin splints suffered in the earlier individual races to make sure her team held onto second place.

“I’m so fine,” she blurted out after crossing the finish line and addressing the question of how she felt at that moment. “I got a medal.”

The Fraser Valley-Delta Zone 4 powerhouse team of Taya Batiste of Burnaby and Surrey’s Laysha Tunti, Charity Obazughanmwen and Estella Mainella won the sprint to the finish in 49.83 seconds. Bannister and her team of Emily Carlson from Cobble Hill, Nanaimo’s Sonya Urbanowicz and Courtenay’s Victoria Porcher were clocked in 50.90, just ahead of the third-place Thompson-Okanagan team’s effort in 50.99.

“They were gone,” said Bannister of the winners. “They had that ridiculous team. All I could do was hold off the other team.”

Carlson got Zone 6 into the lead with a great start and Urbanowicz held onto it during her leg. After Porcher passed the baton to Bannister, Zone 4 had surged ahead, but sheer determination by Bannister kept Zone 6 in second place.

Bannister came seventh in the 100 metre preliminaries in 13.34 seconds to make the final and improved to fifth in 13.20. She was second in her heat for the 200 and wound up ninth overall, missing the final, but she wasn’t too worried.

It gave her extra time to prepare for the relay where the girls really wanted to give it their best and the extra rest really helped Bannister.

All the top sprinters from the relay were also in the 100 and 200 fields.

“I know I’m not good enough at the 100 to medal,” Bannister reasoned. “I didn’t want to go away without a medal.”

It’s been a banner year for Bannister with fourth places at both the provincial club and high school meets for the 100. A fifth in the B.C. Games was pretty much the same, but “I’m happy with it,” she said.

After a break in August, Bannister intends to keep working hard when she starts training again in September to see if she can gain some ground on the front-runners.

Brielle Woodruff, Bannister’s teammate with the Nanaimo Track and Field Club, entered the gruelling pentathlon with five events all in the span of a few short hours and did exceptionally well with a seventh-place finish overall.

She saved the best for last with a third in the 800 metres and also had a third in the shot put among the 11 competitors.

Woodruff’s 80-metre hurdles, shot and 800 were all personal bests and she came close in the long jump.

High jump rounded out her pentathlon agenda.

“I’m a little tired, but I’m good,” she said Sunday when it was all over.

“It was definitely a new experience for me to do, like an hour or 45 minutes apart.”

Woodruff enjoyed the camaraderie of the event.

“It was nice to be with the whole group of girls and get to know them. It was a lot of fun.”

A hot day definitely contributed to the challenge for Woodruff and the other girls.

“It was pretty warm, we tried to stay in the shade as much as we could, but it’s difficult,” she said.

If she continues a multi-sport focus, Woodruff will move up to an age group that incorporates javelin and 200 metres into the heptathlon.

“I’d better start working on those,” she quipped.

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Kaz Bannister and her Zone 6 teammates on the podium along with the other medal winners from the girls 4x100 relay at the B.C. Summer Games. (photo by Don Bodger)

Kaz Bannister receives her silver medal on the B.C. Games podium from Kerry Davis. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Kaz Bannister raises her arm in triumph at the finish of the girls 4x100 relay. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Great form is shown by Brielle Woodruff to try and get over the high jump bar at the B.C. Summer Games. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Brielle Woodruff strains to get over the bar in high jump competition at the Cowichan Sportsplex. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Brielle Woodruff in the 80-metre hurdles at the B.C. Games. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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