The Cochrane High gymnasium is overflowing with banners recognizing their athletic prowess over the years in a multitude of disciplines.

There's been a new addition, thanks to the growing popularity of their cross-country running team.

For the first time ever, the Cobras have won an ASAA 3A provincial cross-country championship.

Fifteen athletes accumulated 1,177 points, outpacing the second-place Strathcona Christian Academy by 312 points.

"This has been coming, because for the last two years, we were silver medallists at 3A  provincials," says head coach Esther Sieben. "The kids are ecstatic, hanging up a big banner. They feel really proud, and they've worked really hard. It's really nice being part of that big win in Trochu."

Head coach Esther Sieben praises the 40 youth, grades 9 to 12 who began training at the beginning of September, practicing four days a week in the early morning.

"I had a lot of buy-in from kids saying, yeah, you know what, we were silver medallists last year, we can do this."

KayleyKayley Torrie struck gold in junior girls. (photo/Travis Cummings)
Raimo provincialsRaimo Solitt (foreground) and Eli Torriem (#627) won silver and bronze, respectively, in junior boys. (photo/Travis Cummings)

Kayley Torrie won gold in junior girls, Raimo Solitt won silver in junior boys, and Eli Torriem won bronze in junior boys.

Other top 20 performances were recorded by Grace Beach (6th, senior girls) and Csenia Irvin (14th senior girls). 

Also competing were Avlea Irvin (jr. girls), Ethan Rost (jr. boys), Taryn Sieben (intermediate girls), Madeleine Robinson (int. girls), Elise Hagen (int. girls), Curtis Biedermann (int boys), Ava Zarowny (sr. girls), Navee Oosterveld (sr. girls),  Mackenzie Lee (sr. girls), and Adam Henry (sr. boys).

"These kids were all barely seconds apart. It was truly their training and their determination because, in a team sport, you can rely on the team to build you up, but in an individual sport like this, it's you and your psychology and your mental toughness out there as you're running these 6k, running up hills and in the rain.

"I truly have a lot of admiration for cross-country runners, because it takes a special breed of athlete to go out there and perform and run those kilometers, literally alone."

cross 5Cochrane High senior girls line up for their race, including Cobras Grace Beach, Csenia Irvin, Ava Zarowny, Navee Oosterveld and Mackenzie Lee. (photo/Esther Sieben)
Adam HenryAdam Henry was one of Cochrane High's senior boys runners. (photo/Karen Henry)

All five of the athletes who placed in the top 20 also train with athletics clubs, including the Cochrane Endurance Project and Calgary Warriors.

"They're dedicated runners, and they realize the time and effort that goes into running a really good 4k, 5k, 6k takes more than our short 10-week season. 

Sieben praises Travis Cummings and the Endurance Project as well as Dani Marland, the cross-country coach for the Warriors.

She also salutes the multi-sport athletes who ran, saying without them they probably couldn't have won the banner.

"It's a combination of true grit, perseverance, and determination, and these kids come together and form a team."

cross country trophyFrom left, Esther Sieben, Curtis Biedermann, Adam Henry, Taryn Sieben, Mackenzie Lee, Sharon Lee (coach), Vanessa Hagen (Coach), Elise Hagen with the provincial plaque. (photo/Karen Henry)

Previous to this, Cochrane High won the ASAA south-central zone banner, also by a significant margin. Their 40 athletes accumulated 766 points, 458 points more than second-place George McDougall High. To qualify for provincials, you have to finish in the top 18 at zones.

Sieben thanks her assistant community coaches Sharon Lee and Vanessa Hagen for their dedication.

She also gave kudos to the Strathmore High School, who headed up both the zone and provincial championships, as well as the Trochu Golf and Country Club for allowing both to be held on their property.

"They opened up their facility for the 895 kids. That's a lot of kids and a lot of running on their golf course."

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, CochraneNow encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the CochraneNow app.