By Yogaraj Panditurai/Red Sports, with additional reporting by Erwin Wong. Photos by Stefanus Ian and Cheah Wenqi/Red Sports.

Clarice Lau Jia Yun (#4168) of Nan Hua High School came in second place with a timing of 15:40. Nan Hua’s four fastest B Division female runners finished in the individual top 10 to help their school win the B team title. (Photo 1 © Cheah Wenqi/Red Sports)

Bedok Reservoir Park, Wednesday, March 22, 2017 — Nan Hua High School stormed to its very first National Schools Cross Country Championship, beating more fancied names to the B Division girls title.

Nan Hua’s four fastest B Division female runners finished in the individual top 10, led by Clarice Lau who finished second, 31 seconds behind Elizabeth Liau of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, who stopped the clock at 15 minutes 9 seconds for the 3.8-kilometre route. This was Elizabeth’s second-straight individual cross country victory, having topped C girls last year.

“It’s the happiest feeling I’ve ever felt. The school is considered an underdog and we’ve never won anything major before,” said Nan Hua’s team captain Phoebe Tay, who finished seventh.

Shawna Tay placed sixth, while Seah Rui Ting was 10th, giving Nan Hua a total of 25 points, compared to 75 for St. Nicholas Girls’ and the 87 for defending champions Cedar Girls’ Secondary School.

In a measure of the Clementi-based school’s underdog status, there was only scattered applause and cheers greeted the eight Nan Hua girls as they walked up, with beaming smiles, to receive their trophies. They had no crowd of supporters.

Just minutes before, Cedar’s third-place team received their medals to thunderous cheers from their reliable army of student supporters that reverberated in the multi-purpose hall at Temasek Polytechnic.

“By winning the title, our girls have shown to the rest of the neighbourhood schools that we can also be as good as the top schools,” said Nan Hua coach and ex-national runner Elangovan Ganesan. “I’ve been telling the girls that our performance must make an impact and encourage other schools to fight on despite being the underdogs.”

Just before the Nan Hua girls lined up at the starting line, Elangovan, who has been coaching the school for the past three years, told his charges to go create history. For team captain Phoebe, this was also her last chance to better the team silver from 2016 before she graduates later this year.

The girls responded.

The moment they finished their race, the girls collapsed, gasping for air and were barely able to stand on the same two feet that saw them over the Bedok Reservoir terrain just seconds earlier.

“The moment I crossed the finish line, I felt like dying and my mind was just blank – I couldn’t think about what my timing was and my position,” said Phoebe. “Only after when all our runners finished the race, we were all feeling quite tense because we saw that we had a good chance for the title.”

Elizabeth’s individual B Division race win was also significant. It was the first individual title in the division for St Nicholas Girls’ since Cassondra Thio in 2003.

“I was aiming for the title but I didn’t expect to win it because I was down with the flu the week before,” Elizabeth said. “Winning the B Division on my first try is a cool feeling. I also feel very honoured to bring back the title and I look forward to defending it next year.”

In the C girls competition, Kylie Tan of Cedar Girls’ claimed top spot with her time of 15:54. She also helped her school claim the division title as they racked up 45 points to beat Raffles Girls’ School (62 points) into second place. St. Nicholas Girls’ School (66 points) was third.

In the A girls competition, Victoria Junior College’s Phoebe Kee took home the individual title with her 15:01 run, but was denied the team title. VJC were tied for points with Hwa Chong Institution with 35 points apiece but lost to HCI on a tie-breaker. HCI’s fourth-best runner Chen Sui finished 14th, while VJC’s Alexandra Wee was 17th.

Still, there is no denying the historic nature of Nan Hua’s B girls team win which coincides with the school’s 100th anniversary this year.

“It’s the perfect gift,” said team captain Phoebe. “I’m glad that before we left, we achieved something really historic and special for the school. I hope everyone will remember this for a long time.”

A Girls Individual
1st Phoebe Kee (Victoria Junior College, #2126) – 15:01
2nd Toh Ting Xuan (Raffles Institution, #2090) – 15:23
3rd Arissa Rashid (Hwa Chong Institution, #2040) – 15:40
4th Corrie Teo (Raffles Institution, #2084) – 15:51
5th Elaine Quah (Raffles Institution, #2083) – 15:54
6th Joyceleen Yap (Hwa Chong Institution, #2039) – 16:00
7th Ng Qi Hui (Victoria Junior College, #2124) – 16:03
8th Ashley Lau (National Junior College, #2071) – 16:10
9th Levyn Wong (Dunman High School, #2026) – 16:18
10th Tay Ling Yin (Victoria Junior College, #2130) – 16:24

A Girls Team
1st HCI – 35 points (won in tiebreaker on 4th fastest runner)
3rd Arissa Rashid (#2040) – 15:40
6th Joyceleen Yap (#2039) – 16:00
12th Lim Su Ann (#2042) – 16:28
14th Chen Sui (#2045) – 16:51

2nd Victoria Junior College – 35 points
1st Phoebe Kee (#2126) – 15:01
7th Ng Qi Hui (#2124) – 16:03
10th Tay Ling Yin (#2130) – 16:24
17th Alexandra Wee (#2125) – 17:05

3rd Raffles Institution – 36 points
2nd Toh Ting Xuan (#2090) – 15:23
4th Corrie Teo (#2084) – 15:51
5th Elaine Quah (#2083) – 15:54
25th Chan Yi Juan (#2088) – 17:49

B Girls Individual
1st Elizabeth Liau (St. Nicholas Girls’ School, #4048) – 15:09
2nd Clarice Lau (Nan Hua High School, #4168) – 15:40
3rd Vera Wang (Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, #4034) – 15:50
4th Celeste Ang (Nanyang Girls’ High School, #4174) – 16:10
5th Caylee Chua (Crescent Girls’ School, #4088) – 16:25
6th Shawna Tay (Nan Hua High School, #4169) – 16:30
7th Phoebe Tay (Nan Hua High School, #4167) – 16:43
8th Sarah Koh (Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, #4032) – 16:45
9th Reyna Tan (Evergreen Secondary School, #4100) – 16:52
10th Seah Rui Ting (Nan Hua High School, #4171) – 16:58

B Girls Team
1st Nan Hua High School – 25 points
2nd Clarice Lau (#4168) – 15:40
6th Shawna Tay (#4169) – 16:30
7th Phoebe Tay (#4167) – 16:43
10th Seah Rui Ting (#4171) – 16:58

2nd CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School – 75 points
1st Elizabeth Liau (#4048) – 15:09
21st Toh Pei Xuan (#4053) – 17:27
26th Low Zhi En (#4051) – 17:32
27th Jolene Tan (#4052) – 17:34

3rd Cedar Girls’ Secondary School – 87 points
3rd Vera Wang (#4034) – 15:50
8th Sarah Koh (#4032) – 16:45
16th Anna Crystal Fong (#4033) – 17:11
60th Grace Huang (#4035) – 18:46

C Division
1st Kylie Tan (Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, #6047) – 15:54
2nd Claudia Tang (Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, #6049) – 16:19
3rd Nur Humairah (Evergreen Secondary School, #6109) – 16:55
4th Joyce Ong (CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School, #6062) – 17:02
5th Hana Cheng (St. Margaret’s Secondary School, #6269) – 17:06
6th Naomi Ng (Raffles Girls’ School, #6236) – 17:12
7th Lai Yu Tong (Evergreen Secondary School, #6108) – 17:13
8th Yeo Limin (Nanyang Girls’ High School, #6175) – 17:15
9th Seah Zun Hwee (River Valley High School, #6237) – 17:19
10th Katelyn Tan (Methodist Girls’ School, #6159) – 17:23

C Girls Team
1st Cedar Girls’ Secondary School – 45 points
1st Kylie Tan (#6047) – 15:54
2nd Claudia Tang (#6049) – 16:19
17th Claudia Goh (#6046) – 17:39
25th Joelle Lim (#6052) – 18:02

2nd Raffles Girls’ School – 62 points
6th Naomi Ng (#6236) – 17:12
14th Athena Hou (#6235) – 17:35
16th Chloe Guo (#6231) – 17:38
27th Jovvy Chen (#6234) – 18:11

3rd CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls’ School – 66 points
4th Joyce Ong (#6062) – 17:02
12th Alexis So (#6066) – 17:33
15th Belle Koh (#6067) – 17:37
35th Chloe Foo (#6064) – 18:44

Photo gallery for National Schools Girls Cross Country Championships

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