Students from Sydney Catholic schools made a clean sweep of the 8/9 girls Mackillop event at the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges (NSWCCC) Cross Country Championships on June 12.
Year 4 student at Mater Dei Catholic Primary Blakehurst Tara Gentle placed first among 60 runners, completing the two kilometre race, held at Eastern Creek, in 8 minutes and 20 seconds.
St Peter Chanel Catholic Primary Regents Park student Daniela Galic and St John Bosco Catholic Primary Engadine student Ella Gair, both in Year 3, placed second and third. All were presented their medals by Olympic athlete Jana Pittman.
They will now compete with students from public, independent, and Catholic schools from across the state on July 17.
Tara, who also takes part in swimming and netball, said she prepared for the event by training with other students who do cross country at her school two days a week. She started running a year ago.
“I love running,” Tara said. “You get to have fun and it’s a challenge. I was happy and proud of myself [for winning the event].”
Tara was one of three Mater Dei students to place first in their event, with Dane Mitchell winning the 8/9 boys event and Alexia Kalamuokis the 10 girls event.
Principal Peter Cranney said the school generally represented strongly at Cross Country events, with the three winners at the NSWCCC event among its best results.
“There is a lot of different opportunities in our area with the sports available so the kids get naturally fit and we also have some dedicated parents who run training here in the weeks leading up to the cross country so the kids are fit,” he said.
Ella, who also plays soccer and Oztag, said the event was more difficult than at previous levels because there were more people and they were more competitive.
“I was very nervous at the start,” she said. “It was very exciting because it was my first time there and I couldn’t believe how I went. I like running for my school to make them proud and to make my family proud.”
Daniela, who also swims and plays soccer five days a week, said she enjoyed cross country for its fun and fitness aspects. She completed the race in 8 minutes and 36 seconds.
“It was really exciting,” she said.
“This is my first year doing Cross Country. I haven’t really done training for it so I’m just excited to take part. I always just try my best.”
The annual championship brings together students from Catholic primary and secondary schools from 17 diocese/associations in NSW.