Princess Margaret senior Baneet Bains will chase gold in both the 1,500m steeplechase and the 3,000m at this week's B.C. high school track and field championships in Kelowna. (Photo by Wilson Wong property of Wilson Wong 2019. All rights reserved)
Feature High School Track & Field

Princess Margaret’s Baneet Bains: The Lions’ senior middle-distance running star always saves her best for last

SURREY — Baneet Bains can’t explain it. 

“But I’ve heard about it a lot from other people,” confirms the senior middle-distance standout from Surrey’s Princess Margaret Secondary when the talk turns to a finishing kick which seems to have a life of its own every time she hits the stretch drive of one of her speciality races.

“It kind of feels like something different comes over me,” continues the affable Bains, who is gearing up for the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships, this season set to begin its annual three-day run Thursday in Kelowna.

“I feel a rush of adrenaline that I didn’t feel before,” Bains, 18, continues of her rarified state. “With 400 (metres) to go, I might be saying ‘I can’t do this’ but then maybe I hear my dad’s voice cheering me on, and I find that kick over the last 150 (metres).”

Baneet Bains, a Princess Margaret Lion who also runs for Coastal Track, is noted by her club coach Scott Kent for having a distinguished finishing kick. (Photo by Wilson Wong property of Wilson Wong 2019. All rights reserved)

Last season, as a Grade 11 looking to make her first big dint in the senior varsity field at the provincial high school meet, Bains and the rest of the field had the distinct misfortune of running up against two of the most decorated middle-distance standouts in B.C. girls history: Taryn O’Neill of Lake Country’s George Elliott Secondary, and New Westminster’s Grace Fetherstonhaugh.

While the Oregon State-bound Fetherstonhaugh was setting a new B.C. meet record in the 1,500m steeplechase (4:50.94), the Villanova-bound O’Neill was establishing new meet standards in both the 1,500m (4:23.02) and 3,000m (9:24.82).

This season, however, Bains is looking to step out of those shadows and maybe have a golden moment or two of her own as she not only aims for a spot on the Canadian Under-20 national team, but preps for an NCAA Div. 1 career beginning in the fall at the University of San Francisco.

“She is one of the sweetest people I have ever coached,” begins Scott Kent, her coach at South Surrey’s Coastal Track, “but she’s also one of the most competitive. She doesn’t like to lose.”

She’s also never going under-prepared for the task at hand.

“She is a numbers person,” continues Kent. “She is so analytical that she is thinking about what (time) she wants to run the day before, and then she comes to practice wanting to hit those targets. So while she is very competitive, she is also completely self-driven.”

And while Bains would have loved to have had the chance to try and win three gold medals at the upcoming high school provincials, she found herself having to make the very difficult decision of dropping one of her trio specialty races (1,500m, 1,500m steeplechase, 3,000m) as their respective qualifying heats and finals were not ideally timed as to allow optimum performance.

In the end, Bains will forgo the 1,500m, the same race she was crowned B.C. junior champion in two seasons ago.

Heats for that race take place on the Thursday, with the finals taking place on Friday, the same day she is also scheduled to compete in the 1,500m steeplechase.

By electing to skip the 1,500m, she can focus her Friday solely on the steeplechase and be ready to run the 3,000m as her solo event on Saturday.

“I have always loved the 1,500m because it brings me so much joy,” she begins, “but at this point, the steeplechase is becoming a passion and in talking with Scott, it was a decision we made that also leaves me in a good position for my 3,000m.”

Last season, one of the most competitive in B.C. high school girls middle-distance running history, Baneet Bains finished in the top five of both the 3,000m and 1,500m races as a Grade 11 competitor. (Photo by Wilson Wong property of Wilson Wong 2019. All rights reserved)

Her personal bests?

Bains clocked a 4:38 in the 1,500m at the Canadian Legion national age group championships last August in Brandon.

She timed a 5:02.85 in the 1,500m steeplechase, finishing second at this season’s Fraser Valley championships last month.

And she also ran a 10:17.32 in the 3,000m at the Fraser Valleys, finishing first with a 20-second gap on her closest competition. Put her in a faster race these days, and there is no telling what will happen.

Beyond this week’s provincial high school meet, however, the track will continue to beckon.

Paramount on Bains’ menu is nailing down a top-two time nationally in the Canadian Under-20 ranks for the 3,000m steeplechase, strangely enough, an event whose distance she has never before raced.

Nonetheless, Bains will chase that goal in Oregon this June 8-9 at the Portland Track Festival. Her goal is to qualify for the Pan American U20 Athletics Championships from July 19-21 in Costa Rica.

After that, it’s the start of a potential major in either communications or international studies for Bains, who will study and compete on scholarship at San Francisco, whose NCAA Div. 1 Dons compete in the West Coast Conference.

“I wanted the independence, and to have the Div. 1 experience and I am excited to see what it all holds,” explains Bains who says she will soon quit her part-time job at a local frozen yogurt palace to both focus on a busy summer of competition and time with family and friends before heading off to university. “Plus, I do have some family down there, so I can just go to their house if I get homesick.”

What she hopes to be focusing as it pertains to her collegiate track career is to work hard and to get the chance to be in a race coming down the stretch drive.

Baneet Bains ran for Canada in Jamaica last summer. She hopes for more national team duty this summer before embarking on an NCAA Div. 1 career with the San Francisco Dons. (Photo by Wilson Wong property of Wilson Wong 2019. All rights reserved)

“She has found a way to get a different energy source over her last 150 metres,” Kent explains. “It’s like ‘Boom’ and then she finds another gear.”

Baneet Bains concurs.

In fact if you ask her, she references one very special race.

“One of my greatest memories is from my Grade 10 provincials in Langley when I won the 1,500m,” she says of that closing kick which gave her the separation to claim gold. “I just got that rush. I still look at that race. I’ve got it recorded.”

In fact she’s got it saved on her phone.

“My dad (Sarbjit) loves watching it, and he loves showing it to everyone,” laughs Bains. “When I play it, I can hear his voice over the last 100 metres. But for me the best part is just knowing that I have that kick in me.”

And those who know her well will tell you that it’s not reserved exclusively for the track.

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