South Surrey gold medallist Alexa Porpaczy (centre) is flanked on the high-jump podium by silve medallist Marguerite Lorenzo (left) and bronze-medal winner Robin Clark (right). (Claus Andersen/Athletics Canada photo)

South Surrey high jumper’s fifth gold medal leads way at Canadian championships

Surrey, White Rock athletes finish on podium at nationals in Ottawa

Chalk up another gold medal for South Surrey high-jumper Alexa Porpaczy.

At Canadian Track and Field Championships Friday in Ottawa, the recent Semiahmoo Secondary graduate – who will attend the University of Arizona in the fall – won gold in the women’s under-20 high jump finals, clearing her final bar at 1.74 m, which was three centimetres better than silver medallist Marguerite Lorenzo of Quebec.

The win marked the fifth time Porpaczy has stood atop the high-jump podium at Canadian championships, dating back to her days in the U18 division, which she won three times. She also won the U20 crown last summer. Next year’s event will be her last at the U20 level, before she moves on to the senior division.

“It was definitely a goal of mine going in, to win it again,” Porpaczy told Peace Arch News Monday morning.

“(The winning jump) wasn’t as high as I wanted, but for me, just pulling out the win was most important.”

Though she had four gold medals at nationals already, Porpaczy said she felt a bit of extra pressure this year, considering she entered the U20 competition as the No. 1-ranked jumper. Last year, she was ranked “third or fourth” heading into nationals, she said.

Porpaczy also faced extra pressure after missing her first two attempts at the 1.68-m level, she said, before finally clearing the bar on her third and final attempt.

“If I’d have missed that, I wouldn’t have even got a medal,” she said, adding that her team’s coach at the meet, Ocean Athletics’ Jeannie Cockcroft, was a calming influence on her.

“She was great – she was really helpful.”

The South Surrey teen wasn’t the only local athlete to return home from the nation’s capital with a medal. Former Earl Marriott Secondary standout Georgia Ginther – who now competes for the University of Victoria – won gold in the U20 women’s 3,000-m steeplechase, clocking a time of 10 minutes, 50.35 seconds. She crossed the finish line two seconds ahead of another B.C. competitor, Olivia Willett.

Ginther, who just completed her first year with the Vikes, is a former B.C. high school steeplechase champ, having won the senior girls 1,500-m event in 2016, while also setting a new meet record in the process.

Surrey’s Christabel Nettey – who won gold at the Commonwealth Games back in April – added another gold medal to her resume in Ottawa after finishing first in the senior women’s long jump. Nettey, a graduate of Surrey’s Johnston Heights Secondary, finished with a best jump of 6.21 m, which was four centimetres further than the second-place competitor, Sandy Latrace.

Nettey’s performance qualified her for 2018 NACAC (North American, Central American and Caribbean) Championships, which are scheduled for Aug. 10-12 in Toronto.

• SEE ALSO: Surrey athletes reach podium at Commonwealth Games in Australia

Surrey’s Jasneet Nijjar also made it onto the podium at nationals, one year after narrowly missing out on a top-three spot. Nijjar, from Queen Elizabeth Secondary and the Universal Track and Field Club, won gold in the U20 women’s 200-m dash, clocking a time of 23.91 seconds.

In the same event last year, Nijjar – who was one of the youngest runners in the field at the time – finished just one-hundredth of a second behind the bronze medallist.

At high school provincials this past spring, Nijjar won three medals – gold in the 100- and 200-m races and silver in the 400-m.

Earlier in the week, Landon Gill of South Surrey-based Ocean Athletics was among the first medal winners, claiming bronze in the U20 men’s decathlon, while another Lower Mainland athlete, Jarrett Chong – who is from Port Coquitlam but listed on the national meet’s official website as being a South Surrey competitor – won silver in the U20 men’s javelin, with a toss of 58.23 m.

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