No look­ing back

Grade 11 cross-coun­try run­ner fastest in the prov­ince, eye­ing na­tion­als


He was well ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion, but he didn’t look back.

“With about 600 me­tres left to go, I’m run­ning back and forth to cheer him on, he asks ‘where are they?’ be­cause he had no idea where the other rac­ers were,” Ja­cob Benoit’s cross- coun­try coach Paula James says.

“I told him, ‘they’re hun­dreds of me­tres be­hind you!’”

Seven­teen-year-old Ja­cob Ben­nett, a Grade 11 stu­dent at Avon View, won gold at the cross coun­try provin­cials in Oc­to­ber and is get­ting ready to head to na­tion­als in Kingston, On­tario on Nov. 25.

“I’m try­ing to get some long runs in, stay healthy, eat well, I know I can’t get sick at this point,” Benoit said. “Just go­ing in ex­cited and full of adren­a­line.”

Benoit said he was thrilled to see his name at the top of the stand­ings dur­ing the provin­cials.

“I knew I was go­ing to be fairly well matched against some other run­ners in the prov­ince, so I trained hard up un­til a week be­fore provin­cials and ta­pered a lit­tle bit, took some time off and tried to stay loose for the race,” Benoit said. “It worked out re­ally well for me.”

He’s not wrong. In the se­nior men’s six-kilo­me­tre run, Benoit fin­ished with a time of 19 min­utes, 13 sec­onds. Sec­ond place crossed the fin­ish line at 19 min­utes, 40 sec­onds.

“I went into the race, try­ing to feel re­laxed, but at the same time fo­cused,” he said. “I knew I’d have to leave ev­ery­thing on the course just to do well. It felt in­com­pa­ra­ble to any­thing.”

One of Benoit’s ma­jor goals is to head to the next Canada Games in ap­prox­i­mately four years time.

Pas­sion for the sport

This is Benoit’s third year in track and field, and fifth in cross-coun­try.

“I just love the feel­ing you get when you run, you have to ex­ert your­self a lot,” he said. “You al­ways want to achieve a new goal you’ve set for your­self.”

Benoit says there’s a bal­ance be­tween work­ing with his team­mates and coaches and push­ing him­self to­wards his goals.

“If you have some­one else in the work­out with you who can push you, you’re go­ing to get a lot more out of it,” he said. “Hav­ing some­one who’s a lit­tle ahead of you is al­ways good, they push you to go faster.”

Benoit said the core group of run­ners and track ath­letes at Avon View are a close-knit bunch, like a fam­ily.

“We all push each other to do well,” he said. “There’s a lot of team bond­ing and I guess it’s help­ful to lean on some­body when you need sup­port.”

Benoit said he re­mains so pas­sion­ate about the sport be­cause he likes the chal­lenge that it brings.

“A lot of peo­ple want to win, but don’t want to put in the ef­fort, but I want to put in the ef­fort and I want to win,” he said. “I want to keep push­ing my­self.”

Mak­ing Avon View a track Mecca

Benoit’s coaches, Paula James and Ian Shaw, say they’re in­cred­i­bly proud of how far the ath­lete has come al­ready, and are hope­ful that more stu­dents at the school will take an in­ter­est in the sport.

“This is my third year work­ing with Ja­cob through the club as well as the school and the growth that I’ve seen in him as an ath­lete has been re­mark­able,” James said. “As se­nior boys champ, that’s the top of the lad­der, he’s reached that in Grade 11.”

James said she’s re­ally ex­cited to see Benoit head to na­tion­als, where she says he can find some com­pe­ti­tion that will push him.

“He had no con­test provin­cially, not at At­lantics, so he’ll have to go to na­tion­als to see what he can do,” she said. “Dur­ing the race at provin­cials, Ja­cob didn’t know how much he was ahead, he was com­pletely fo­cused on what he was do­ing.”

Shaw said he’s hop­ing, through ath­letes like Benoit, to make Avon View a ma­jor player in the track and field world.

“We want to turn this area into a run­ning Mecca - track and field, cross-coun­try, ev­ery­thing,” he said.

James and Shaw started coach­ing to­gether at West Hants Mid­dle School; they’re hop­ing that the stu­dents they worked with at WHMS will be­come track ath­letes at Avon View.

“When we first got here, there were like five kids on the team,” Shaw said. “Each year has been get­ting busier.”

James said Avon View is well known in other sports, but only now are start­ing to be rec­og­nized in track, adding that Benoit will con­tinue to be a part of that.


Ja­cob Benoit, the fastest cross-coun­try high school se­nior in the prov­ince, has his eyes set on na­tion­als com­ing up in Kingston, On­tario.


Ja­cob Benoit kept his eyes on the fin­ish line at provin­cials.


The fastest male teen in the prov­ince, Ja­cob Benoit, is a Grade 11 stu­dent at Avon View.


Dur­ing the cross-coun­try provin­cials in Hal­i­fax, Ja­cob Benoit screamed passed the com­pe­ti­tion, 27 sec­onds ahead of sec­ond place.

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