Two-time provincial cross country champion Jack Amos of Oak Bay High is on the sidelines for the 2017 Island and B.C. high school cross country championships, as well as the upcoming 2018 track and field season. The Grade 11 is already the provincial favourite to win the XC and 3-kilometre track events in his Grade 12 year. Travis Paterson/News Staff

B.C.’s fastest runner watching provincials from the sidelines

Jack Amos tripped by school sports rule, happy to wait

Three pairs of socks, long johns, tights, sweatpants, snow pants, two shirts, a sweater, a coat, a balaclava, a neck warmer, gloves and a hat.

This is the outfit Jack Amos wore when the Dawson City teen ran in minus-48 degree Celsius last year. It’s what you have to do if you want to win the B.C. Cross Country Championship when you live within a day’s drive of the Arctic Circle (Yukon athletes qualify for the B.C. event).

“I also ran in snowshoes but mostly I went cross-country skiing,” said Amos. “You run hard or you get cold.”

This weekend the two-time B.C. Cross Country champion was home in Oak Bay, (his new home away from home, that is), despite being the favourite to win the B.C. High School Cross Country Championships, Nov. 4, at Jericho Beach in Vancouver.

As expected, Justine Stecko of Oak Bay High won the senior girls’ B.C. High School Cross Country Championship, a 4.6-kilometre race, in a time of 17:01. Bridget Mateyko, an Oak Bay resident at St. Andrew’s Regional School, came in 19th (18:43) with Oak Bay High runners Alisa Lyesina in 20th (18:45) and Sarah Bryan (18:48) in 21st.

And even without Amos, Oak Bay won the senior boys’ title (a 6.9km race). Findlay Day was 11th overall, Jack Boden (22nd), Michael Barber 34th) and Joe Robertson (37th). Mount Douglas’ Liam Dwyer was the top finisher from the South Island, finishing 7th at 23:47, followed by Reynolds’ Kalem Delaney in 8th, Parkland’s Cooper Langard in 10th.

However, Amos can’t wear Oak Bay’s famous green running pinny until September of 2018 because he needed to have resided with a legal guardian, here in Victoria, for 12 months prior to competition. (He is now registered with his current billet and will be on track for September of 2018.)

He might be the best athlete in Greater Victoria to sit out a school season since Steve Nash moved from Mount Douglas secondary to St. Michaels University School, who missed his Grade 11 year in 1990-91 (Nash famously led SMUS to the AAA provincial title in his Grade 12 year).

Amos left Dawson City and his family – dad’s a park ranger, mom’s an educational assistant – for Oak Bay in August. He’s billeting with a friend of his family’s with a goal of completing Grade 11 and 12 here to focus on training year round. He enrolled at Oak Bay High for its academic reputation as much as anything (fun fact, the school population this year is just under 1,300 students, about 75 less people than the population of Dawson City), he said.

“I’m actually okay with [the ruling], it’s all good. I didn’t actually know Oak Bay had this great of [a team and tradition],” Amos said. “To get here and train with the runners at Prairie Inn and Oak Bay, I love it, it’s been great.”

While he’s accepting of the rule, Amos did appeal for eligibility, which was turned down. By joining Oak Bay, it’s easy to think he sought out the top track school in B.C. on purpose but that is secondary to his primary goal of moving here to run under the tutelage of Saanich-based coach and former Olympian Bruce Deacon. Deacon runs the Prairie Inn Harriers high performance youth running team where Amos trains with the top male runners in town, including his Oak Bay teammates, as well as Dwyer and the Reynolds boys.

The latter group were all top-10 at the XC Islands, and Amos outpaced them, and everyone else, at the club provincials.

“Jack proved to everyone that he can beat them all when he’s allowed to race,” Deacon said. “He ran a brilliant race, really smart, bided his time and won at the end.”

B.C. School Sports executive director Jordan Abney said there’s been an increase in transfer applications by 20 per cent this year, up from another increase last year. With the growing number, BCSS has moved to clarify the rulings adding to create more tangible definitions.

In the first six weeks of school BCSS has received 338 eligibility applications (as of Oct. 19).

In general, the biggest barrier stopping transfers from playing school sports is if they played that sport in their previous year at the previous school (which Amos didn’t).

“We understand schools and parents get frustrated and there’s no enjoyment in telling a kid they can’t play a sport they love, and we often [bear] the negative end [of that],” Abney said. “The big picture is this is a rare situation. Even the number of ineligible transfers is only a handful students in the whole province, .2 per cent of 70,000 students.

“Our member schools have to do a good job of ensuring students are made aware of the transfer rules when they transfer.”

Amos will compete at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in Kingston, Ont., Nov. 25.

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