West Coast Win­ner

Vic­to­ria’s Jus­tine Stecko is an­other great tal­ent com­ing from one of Canada’s run­ning hot­beds

Canadian Running - - Honour Roll - By Christo­pher Kel­sall

Six­teen-year-old Vic­to­ria ath­lete Jus­tine Stecko has found her niche in the sport of run­ning. Grow­ing up on Van­cou­ver Is­land pro­vides many sport and recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties and she pur­sued sev­eral of them in­clud­ing karate, be­ing a mem­ber of the Mount Wash­ing­ton Ski Team (down­hill), play­ing field hockey and soc­cer, to name a few. “Now I mostly fo­cus on run­ning and ski­ing dur­ing the win­ter,” said the Oak Bay High School stu­dent. Asked about her favourite sub­jects the straight-A stu­dent said she loves bi­ol­ogy. Now that she is fo­cused pri­mar­ily on run­ning, her per­sonal bests are im­pres­sive, in­clud­ing run­ning 10k (36:44), 8k (29:32), 3,000m (10:22) and 1,500m (4:48). Part of that can be at­trib­uted to tal­ent, de­sire to com­pete and her en­vi­ron­ment. Stecko runs with the Bruce Dea­con-led Prairie Inn Har­rier youth team. Dea­con, a two-time Olympian, runs a suc­cess­ful pro­gram in Vic­to­ria for ath­letes who en­joy the sport and are com­pet­i­tive. One of his ath­letes, Tyler Dozzi (a past ‘Honour Roll’ sub­ject) won the youth cat­e­gory at the 2016 Cana­dian Cham­pi­onships. Last fall, Stecko also had a strong cross-coun­try sea­son. At the B.C. High School cham­pi­onships in Kelowna, she raced against some of the fastest run­ners in Canada and fin­ished in sixth be­hind some very strong tal­ent in­clud­ing Ver­non’s Han­nah Ben­ni­son, the Sevsek sis­ters Christina and Julie of Sur­rey, Kelowna’s Taryn O’Neill and Cowichan’s De­sirae Ri­de­nour, who is a top young triathlon tal­ent. As one of the younger run­ners in this race, Stecko com­peted well, to fin­ish one-minute and one sec­ond off of the lead.

One week prior, she com­peted in the B.C. Club Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in Nanaimo fin­ish­ing fourth over­all. Two of the three fin­ish­ers in front of her were a year older.

Asked about the club cham­pi­onships race, she said, “The race went out quite fast. I didn’t have a very fast start, so go­ing into the for­est I was in about 12th. I grad­u­ally made my way into sec­ond be­hind Olivia Wil­let and held that po­si­tion for about half a lap. Com­ing onto the field, I was quite tired and did ev­ery­thing I could to hold off the kick­ers, but with about 150 m left I got passed by Taryn O’Neill and Ge­or­gia Ginther.”

Stecko is al­ready think­ing long-term to­wards the right univer­sity pro­gram that suits not only her ath­letic goals, but also her aca­demic plans.

“I am look­ing to go to a univer­sity with a great cross-coun­try and track team that de­vel­ops their ath­letes to con­tinue to im­prove and be their best,” said Stecko. “I am in­ter­ested in en­rolling in a sports nu­tri­tion and exercise phys­i­ol­ogy pro­gram.” Christo­pher Kel­sall is a con­tribut­ing edi­tor, based in Vic­to­ria.

AGE SCHOOL 16 Club Oak Bay High School, Vic­to­ria Prairie Inn Har­rier youth team Bruce Dea­con CLUB COACH PER­SONAL BESTS 10K 36:44 8K 29:32 3,000m 10:22 1,500m 4:48

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