SANTUBONG: Host Kuching staved off a spirited challenge from Sarikei to successfully defend their crown at the Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Sarawak (MSS Sarawak) Cross Country Championship at Santubong yesterday.
They collected a total of 364 points to emerge overall champions for a second consecutive year ahead of 2009 overall champions Sarikei who accumulated 393 points while Betong were third with 401 points.
Samarahan, who were expected to do well in the competition and were 2008 overall champions, however could only manage fourth place with 452 points and Sibu were fifth with 772 points.
Kuching team manager Peter Bair when met after the prize presentation said that they were happy to be able to defend their title in face of keen competition from the other teams.
“I think we won because we had the home-ground advantage and that we were well prepared for the more challenging race this year,” he said, adding that Kuching had in fact started training at Santubong from Feb 5.
According to him, it was a tough task defending the title because some divisions were sending full teams this year unlike in the past when some only sent a few individual runners.
“We had expected a tough fight from Samarahan, Sarikei and Sibu but Samarahan and Sibu didn’t do too well this year. We were also trying our best and very hard to become the champions again and we managed to achieve our target,” he said.
He attributed Kuching’s success to the hard work and strong commitment of its runners, chief coach Jamat Chen and his assistants Rahmad Kasah, Peter Robinson, Alando Stephen, Evalton Jiob, Sidek Hadi, Sharon Kezia Leela Sanjive, Nurul Adyani Ahmad, Nuriani Abdullah, Ulau Ajang Jok and Roshan Paula.
Peter said the Kuching representatives were from SMK Sematan, SMK Penrissen No 1, SMK Santubong and State Sports School Tabuan Jaya.
Meanwhile, Mohd Erizal Anwar Bujang from Mukah won the Boys U-18 Individual race while Kuching’s Mohd Ismail Emon came in second, Nelson Jelian of Sarikei was third, followed by Patrick Ben (Sibu), Yusnasry Yusuf (Samarahan), Mohd Azhar Usop (Betong), Freedyson Lemina and Eric Semail both of Kuching, Selebester Kong (Sarikei) and Jeffery Roland (Samarahan) in fourth to tenth placing.
The Boys U-18 team title went to Kuching who collected 63 points while Mukah were second with 93 points and Samarahan third with 130 points.
Finishing fourth to sixth were Betong (140), Sarikei (142) and Sibu (206) respectively.
Nur Aisyah Ahmat of Betong took the Girls U-18 Individual title, finishing ahead of Miri’s Ho Siew Hua and Sarikei’s Sofea Steven.
Finishing in fourth to tenth placing were Winnie Jalan also of Sarikei, Rosiana Jusse from Kuching, Rose Bujang from Betong, Elidiana Juen of Kuching, Madeline Sendy Ludan of Sibu, Feona Sharon Paul of Kuching and Daphne Amaxis Rachel Hibot from Samarahan. Sarikei captured the Girls U-18 title with 68 points while Betong and Kuching were second and third respectively with 78 points and 101 points.
Samarahan (156) were fourth, Sibu fifth (177) and Sri Aman sixth (297).
Betong dominated the Boys U-15 Individual race with a one-two finish by Alby Mustaffa Alba and Mohd Sharil Zain. Endang Ringgit from Sarikei was third in this category.
The fourth to tenth placing were won by Luat Kemenden (Sibu), Sofriezan Ja’an, Mohd Lokman Kaili, Romario Muyang (Samarahan), Banta Langsat, Iskandar Mattuhu (Kuching) and Mohd Amilin Ali Basah (Mukah).
Samarahan were the champions of the Boys U-15 team event after collecting 78 points while second and third were Kuching and Sarikei with 103 points and 114 points respectively.
They were followed by Betong (115), Sibu (184) and Sri Aman (274) in fourth to sixth placing.
Betong swept the Girls U-15 Individual and Team events with Amylia Isa being the first to cross the finishing line in the individual race and the team garnering 68 points.
Mastulrina Daut of Samarahan came in second while Betong’s Faradilah Raznie was third.
Fourth to tenth were Melisa Limbi (Kuching), Rinanuie Tawi (Samarahan), Beneded Limau (Sarikei), Amelda Isa (Betong), Cintiaa Carina Dilah (Kuching), Diana Biah Mat (Betong) and Madeline Jatie Mengok (Sarikei).
The runners-up of the team event were Sarikei with 69 points while finishing third to seventh were Samarahan (88), Kuching (97), Sibu (205), Mukah (224) and Sri Aman (330).
Two hundred and forty-six runners including 124 girls from 11 divisions took part in the competition jointly organised by Kuching District Education Department and the Sarawak Education Department.
Head of Human Development Management Section, Sarawak Education Department Ellen @ Manium Engang closed the ceremony and gave away the prizes to the winners.
Also present were Bau District Education Officer Omar Mahali and SMK Santubong principal Nor Azri Ali.