Classic Kitely-McInnes CIS XC poll at Montreal Endurance brought to you by New Balance

At long last (a few pollsters were late in submitting their picks) here is the first edition of this year’s CKMCISXCMENB. Yes, that’s the acronym we will be using. Hashtag it.

Overall: the usual suspects are given leeway, the middle of the pack is “pick’em” and not much love for the east coast. TWU has now established themselves as given top ten teams on both sides, with the women getting almost as many points as Toronto. Guelph is Guelph, what you gonna do? No reason not to rank them first until we see results to the contrary. Corrections and updates graciously accepted.

Ladies first…

Women

Guelph 100 points
With so much returning power in Thompson, Petrick and Yungblut, not to mention Alison and Ayers(not playing lacrosse this fall) and the additions of internationally experienced Kretz (3rd U23 triathlon) and Wismer (World XC Junior), it is very tempting to rank the Gryphon’s 2nd. But I guess you have to give the people what they want: a unanimous choice at #1.

Toronto 85 points
This team is very good and looks to be a lock for a podium spot, even without their star. If Jewett gets back for CIS (the hope is that she will be), then that gives Toronto one runner who can match up against either of Guelph’s top two. Stafford is a deadly racer and may stone-cold the assassin out of Julie-Anne Staelhi, but to get the gold they will need 3 more like that.

TWU 80 points
This is a squad that could contend. In addition to some international calibre runners (Yee, Jackson) I think the key to the team is going to be the runner who, and I quote “ran the 2014 Sun Run with her mom.” Yes, this is how it is done. (No slight to her, just a hilarious inclusion in the “highlights” section.)

Western 68 points
Truelove looked dominant over the weekend at McGill, and Caruso has found new life: after three years in the mid-second pack at CIS, she could challenge for all-Canadian this year. The ‘stangs are deep and should stay close to the podium this year. For now, however, the pollsters put them just out of the limelight.

Queens 53 points
One half of the dynamic duo has moved on to whatever it is runners do after university (careers?). Julie-Anne Staelhi will attempt to defend her individual title, and will be backed by a solid group who were between 31st (Marie Soehl) and 56th (Liane Girard) at CIS last year. A significant improvement by that pack could make up for the loss of Coates.

Victoria 43 points
No news out of the west coast, but I guess with the time difference, they haven’t woken up yet.

McMaster 38 points
A large number of Mauraders will return this fall; specifically all-Canadian Madeline McDonald will lead the way. A solid group of recruits may or may not contribute this year, but will form a base for future years. Despite this, they have been moved down the rankings to start the year. The key here the woman who runs 26.5 for 200m and loves salt and vinegar flavoured popcorn. Both of those things are very important to good cross-country running. Seriously though, 26.5? Don’t get caught next to her in the final stretch!

McGill 29 points
The Martlet’s entered the season with high hopes, but with key piece Ali Barwick questionable for the near future, we might not see the full power of this squad until the end of October. Which is totally fine because that’s all that matters anyway. Just ignore everything that happens between now and then.

Dalhousie 12 points
The Tigers return some solid mid-18min road 5k runners, but the top two will surely be Ellen Chappel (17:25 and 9:53 3k) and transfer Colleen Wilson (9:55 3k). The abilities of the depth runners will tell the tale for this team.

Calgary 12 points
Somehow Calgary is always in the picture at the end. Must be the altitude and the fall snowstorms that toughen them up. The team is not looking like much with only two top-40 finishers returning, but Sydney Banister could be a key, as her summer track times indicate she may be much improved. The depth will determine if they stay in the top 10.

Men

Guelph 100 points
They are returning EVERYONE. Ok, not everyone. Nixon is not back. But they have two sub-14min 5000m guys and a sub-29min 10000m guy. Honestly the recruit list seems a little underwhelming, but at this point it doesn’t matter unless there is an outbreak of some kind in G-land.

Laval 82 points
It’s tough to lose your 2, 3, 6 and 7 runners and remain in contention, but the Rouge et Or have some fine up and comers this year in Gabriel Legault and Antoine Thibault. Jean-Daniel Labranche has been a contributor to the team in the past and this year it looks like he will get his chance to score for them. Chuck just raced Kiprop and Soulieman this weekend, so we will see how his season winds up. It won’t hurt their chances if he is able to take that low stick.

Windsor 68 points
No official preview, but by other accounts, they are returning bodies. And all Windsor needs are bodies. Perhaps not a direct quote, but I think Dennis Fairall said: “You just do you, and we will see you on the CIS podium. Again.”

McMaster 64 points
They lose a couple good ones in Reid and Sanders, but return a core of solid XC men. Smee and Sorbara are your rookies to watch. There was much discussion on the boards on the validity of cross-training and relying on triathletes to do a cross-country runner’s job. Some schools might take Arizona’s point of view on foreigners, but Mac is a good ol’ Canadian tossed salad.

Victoria 63 points
No info. Probably a bunch of long-haired 800m runners. Stay tuned.

Lakehead 50 points
Last year there was a lot of hype around this team, but then…nothing. So perhaps this year we will see just what Brown, Tree, McGuire, Aulagnon and Quarrell can do. Expectations are high, but cautiously so.

Queens 38 points
The loss of Costen is a blow, but Wynands looks like a solid replacement on the back end. Archer had a great summer running 30:23 on the track and picking up a national championships medal. Tight for 7th spot but basically in the mix. Their undoing will likely be a lack of hill repeats.

TWU 37 points
Returning DeShiffart (19th) and White (21st) from last year’s squad, as well as a couple guys who the coach’s preview says “spent summer getting ready for cross.” Well, that’s what the rest of us did, too. I mean, what else is there to do?

Calgary 14 points
Some good summers were had by the Dinos. Justinen a solid 14:37, while James (15:03) and Grieco (15:30) ran decently.

Waterloo 9 points
I did not have a blurb prepared for the Waterloo men, but James Milton is on their team and he is a good kid, so I will just assume he will lead the team into the top ten with his charm, good looks and very high GPA.