By REDintern Romaine Soh
One of the most anticipated national schools championships is just around the corner.
Some of the fittest student-athletes from across the nation will convene next Wednesday, March 27 at the National Schools Cross Country Championships, where they will match their endurance, speed and wits against each other. This year’s competition will be held at Bedok Reservoir, with the first race flagging off at 9 a.m.
With less than a week to go before the championships, let us take a look at the potential title contenders, and potential clashes.
C Division (3.6 km) — Clash of the Titans
If recent form is anything to go by, it will be a three-horse race between Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, Nanyang Girls’ High School and Raffles Girls’ School (RGS) for the C Division girls team championship.
The Nanyang Girls’ team of Arissa Rashid, Noelle Chung, Koh Fang Yun and Tan Xiao Tong burst onto the cross country scene when they grabbed the silver team medal at the Swift Cross Country meet, just behind first-placed Cedar Girls’. However, they did not make an appearance at subsequent races, leaving us to wonder what they could have up their sleeves.
Cedar seems the odds-on favourite to bring home the C Division champions’ shield this year. The Cedar Girls’ quartet of Joyceleen Yap, Haney Khairunnisa, Khoo Xin Hui and Andrea Tan finished five points ahead of Raffles RGS at the Wings Cross Country meet. To put things into perspective, Andrea was not even the fourth-fastest Cedarian finisher on that day. That honour went to Shirlyn Ouyang, who finished in 11th place but was representing Cedar’s second team.
At meets such as the SAA and Wings Cross Country Championships, schools are allowed to send as many teams as they wish, unlike the nationals, where schools are limited to one team each. Having last won the C Division title in 2011, Cedar will strive to relive their glory days.
Raffles are not too shabby themselves, having come in second last year, with Chloe Wang (who has since moved up to the B Division) emerging as individual champion. This year’s team, comprising of Amanda Lok, Felyn Toh, Claire Tan and Angelina Lim, will be hoping to end a 17-year drought for a C Division championship, having last won it in 1996.
Meanwhile, the individual crown looks to be a showdown between Isabelle Wang of River Valley High and Joyceleen Yap of Cedar Girls’. At the most recent Wings meet, Isabelle barely managed to hold off Joyceleen by 0.06 seconds, compared to her 31-second victory at the Swift meet three weeks earlier.
Isabelle’s edge over the rest of the field is her high endurance, but Joyceleen may be capable of overcoming this attribute with her fast finish, as she proved at the Wings meet. If Joyceleen is able to keep with Isabelle until the final stretch, Cedar may yet again produce an individual champion for the first time since 2010.
One dark horse to be reckoned with is Arissa Rashid from Nanyang Girls’, who took home the individual gold at the Swift meet by 14 seconds. If she manages to run a strong race on the day, she may well be the first Nanyang girl to be crowned the C Division individual champion in history.