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Siona Chisholm races to NSSAF cross country championship

Senior girls' champion Siona Chisholm of Dr. J.H. Gillis relaxes after crossing the finish line at Trenton Park on Monday. (WILLY PALOV/Chronicle Herald)
Senior girls' champion Siona Chisholm of Dr. J.H. Gillis relaxes after crossing the finish line at Trenton Park on Monday. (WILLY PALOV/Chronicle Herald) - Willy Palov

Regional senior girls capture team title

TRENTON, N.S. —

Siona Chisholm is the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation (NSSAF) senior girls’ cross country champion.    

The Antigonish native raced to top spot in the 6k competition, posting a 22:40, at the Oct. 28 provincial meet in Trenton.    

“I felt good prior to the race because I knew I had put in some really good practices,” the Grade 11 student at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School said.    

She added her race plan included “getting out strong and staying consistent.”    

“I was able to get out to the lead and pick up the pace as the race went on,” Siona said.    

She did just that – leading from wire-to-wire – while battling steady rainfall.    

“It feels great – I am really happy with it,” Siona said of the result.    

She reflected on the “challenging” Pictou County course, noting a long stretch of rolling hills of various grades.    

“Your legs get really sore,” Siona said, with a laugh.    

She finished 36 seconds ahead of her Regional teammate Mairin Canning, who clocked a second-place time of 23:16.    

“They really set a fast pace and this worked well for them and their teammates,” Royals’ head coach Tommy Chisholm said of the pair.    

Malia Artibello, who finished 10th in 25:19, shaved two minutes off her time from regionals, which took place on the same Trenton course.    

With a season’s best time (26:55), Hannah Austen – the fourth Regional racer across the finish line – clinched the senior girls’ team crown for the Royals.    

“It was so exciting – everyone did really well,” Siona said, her voice reflecting how happy she was about her teammates’ finish and their championship effort.    

Anna McGillivray (28:24) and Maura Flynn (28:32) were the next Regional runners to cross the finish line.    

Siona Chisholm (center) and Mairin Canning (right) of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals raced to first and second place, respectively, in the senior girls' classification at the 2019 NSSAF cross country championships in Trenton. Kristen Ross (left) of the Northumberland Nighthawks collected the bronze. CONTRIBUTED
Siona Chisholm (center) and Mairin Canning (right) of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals raced to first and second place, respectively, in the senior girls' classification at the 2019 NSSAF cross country championships in Trenton. Kristen Ross (left) of the Northumberland Nighthawks collected the bronze. CONTRIBUTED

“Hannah, Anna and Maura knew that the banner would be decided by our fourth runner,” the cross country head coach said.    

“They worked very well to put Hannah in a position to go after those much-needed points.”    

The Royals, with 38 points, collected the banner comfortably, outdistancing the second and third-place teams – the North Nova Gryphons and Halifax Grammar School Gryphons – by 38 and 66 points, respectively.

More gold    

Led by top-five finishes from Anna Robinson (second, 19:28) and Mariah Austen (fourth, 20:16), the Royals’ intermediate girls’ team raced to gold at provincials.    

“Anna ran a very competitive race, keeping favourite Ella Bottomley (Riverview High School) in her sights,” Chisholm said, noting there were several lead changes over the 5k course.    

He added Austen used “the experience gained this season to finish an impressive fourth place.”    

Chisholm also noted the importance of strong finishes from Grade 10 athletes Sarah Stewart (23:19) and Megan Smith (24:17).   

Anna Robinson (back) of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals finished second to Ella Bottomley of Riverview High School in the NSSAF intermediate cross country race in Trenton. Her time of 19:28 helped lead her team to gold and the provincial banner. CONTRIBUTED BY WILLY PAVLOV
Anna Robinson (back) of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals finished second to Ella Bottomley of Riverview High School in the NSSAF intermediate cross country race in Trenton. Her time of 19:28 helped lead her team to gold and the provincial banner. CONTRIBUTED BY WILLY PAVLOV

“With only four points separating us from second place Lockview High School, it was crucial for Sarah and Megan to pick off as many runners as possible,” he said.    

In the intermediate boys’ classification, Liam Walker (15th, 19:18) and Dominic Heighton (28th 19:50) led the way for the Royals, while Nick Delorey finished in 20:07.    

The teams dropped out of medal contention when Dante Macdonald left the race with an injury.    

Senior Iain Polson – the lone Royal in the senior boys’ race – wrapped up what Chisholm called “an impressive high school career” with a 31st place finish.

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