Classic Kitely-McInnes CIS XC pre-conference poll at Montreal Endurance brought to you by New Balance 2014

Here we are just days before the conference championships. The rankings are starting to feel like they might be a little more closer to reality, now that we’ve seen some teams race most of their big guns. There are some surprises. Some disappointments. And there is Queens’, too.

I would like to draw your attention to a neat little tool. Click here and you will find yourself at a page where you can vote up or down the schools in the ranking. It’s not much different than the vote on trackie, but not quite the same either. It is something for you to pass the time doing and watch furiously as your team sinks to the bottom, or rises to the top.

And now the rankings. Women first.

1 Guelph 100pts
A strong showing in two NCAA races shows they are the class of the nation, without a doubt. There is something to be said for going and running in a race with a deep field, when you know the end of your season is going to look like an intrasquad time trial up front. It shows that this program is not interested in sitting on their laurels, but in pushing the envelope, and hopefully raising the bar for all CIS teams.

2 Trinity Western 74pts
Did I say without a doubt? Ok, there’s very little doubt, but the top 3 from TWU, and maybe even the top 4, can hang with the Gs. There is a big drop off to number 5 though. The Spartans were still able to demolish fellow west-coasters U Vic, though, so it seems as though they may be the best of the rest.

3 Toronto 69pts
The Blues looked strong at the Queens’ meet, nearly doubling 2nd place McMaster’s score. They are a bit of an inverse of TWU as they have a low stick in Stafford (she may run away with the whole thing), and then 4 solid women a couple minutes back but within 30sec of each other.

3 Western 69pts
Tied with Toronto on the strength of some early season work, and of course being on the podium the last two years. I am still worried that over-racing will leave this team flat at CIS.

5 Victoria 54pts
Seems like this squad is rounding into shape, as Soderberg was much better at the Western Washington meet, and François debuted right in the mix. They have been opposite of Western in terms of how much they raced this year: not much. This is still a solid team.

6 Queens’ 50pts
Assuming Staelhi is good to go, they don’t lose much on the front end with Sumner looking strong. They are strong in the 3 spot as well, as Shannen Murray had a strong race on the home course. One imagines that coach Boyd has prepared this team well for a grinding course out on the Rock.

7 McMaster 35pts
According to insider reports, what you see is what you get from this team. They were a distant second to UofT at the Queens’ meet, and while they managed to beat the hosts, the Gaels were not at full strength. Maddy McDonald will absolutely mix it up with the all-Canadians, but the rest of the squad is mid-pack.

8 Laval 34pts
Finally the Rouge et Or make an appearance on our poll, presumably after a strong showing at the Interlock meet. At last year’s Interlock, these ladies looked absolutely beat, and they could not recover from the heavy training load. This year, things could be different. With conference rivals McGill seemingly in a down year, this could be Laval’s chance to grab only their second RSEQ title in some 25 years.

9 McGill 17pts
Despite being down one of their top three, the Martlets still have a solid one-two. Jullien Flynn surprised some with her individual victory at Interlock, changing her nickname in the process from the more working class “Mighty Mouse” to the front-running “Flashy Flynn.” Despite Flynn’s emergence into the upper echelons, if McGill wants to stay in the top ten at CIS, the depth will have to step up.

10 Windsor 15pts
I wonder if this spot is not being given to Windsor by default based on the traditionally success of the program. No results seem to indicate that this is a top ten team. Ottawa seems like a better choice. Actually, they should be further up the list, but their lack of racing has hurt them more than Victoria’s has, likely because they haven’t had the history of doing well. Sorry, Lancers, this is all about the GGs.

Men

1 Guelph 100pts
The men did not fare quite as well as the ladies did at Wisco, but still, they are a cut above. The question with this team is which of their studs will take the individual crowns. Woodfine and Proudfoot have been back and forth all year (well, Woodfine won the Vic Matthews, then didn’t race Paul Short, then Proudfoot beat him at Wisco). Hendrixk has not been his usual self, but still is a first-team AC threat.

2 McMaster 84pts
I think Mac is getting more love than Windsor and Laval because they have been racing more prominently (i.e. in Ontario). That should not diminish our expectations for this team, as they do seem quite strong, and haven’t even raced their full squad yet. Darlington was missing at Queens’ and so was Blair Morgan. They have a very strong top five.

3 Windsor 75pts
A couple solid races in the USA have shown Windsor’s true colours. Once again, this is a team that should contend for a medal at CIS. The team has Corey Bellmore up front running well, and a nice bit of depth that ends with Paul Janikowski as the 7th man.

4 Laval 69pts
A scare by the Interlock hosts St. FX has the Rouge et Or falling a bit in the rankings. This is still a good team with a potential CIS individual gold medalist leading the charge. They haven’t done anything wrong per se, but other teams have started to show improvement, building towards the end of the season. Laval has remained steady, which is fine, but will it be enough to stay on the podium?

5 Victoria 56pts
In a head to head with provincial rivals TWU, Victoria came out decidedly on top. Olivier Collin returned to competition and fit in nicely as the #2 guy. Ryan Cassidy seems to be a little off his game, but the rest of the Vikes are picking up the slack.

6 St. FX 35pts
The X-men gave two-time CIS medalists Laval a run for their money on Nova Scotia soil at the Interlock. Only a lagging 5th man cost St. FX the upset victory. With a deeper field at CIS, however, the tightly packed 1-4 could do some damage.

7 Lakehead 32pts
The great northern hope is starting to fade. For the second year in a row, big promises early are fading late. Kevin Tree pulled a Messier/Alfredsson/whatever bad hockey captain you want to throw in there and guarenteed…something…when receiving his award for winning the Queen’s Open race. There have been some injuries but they are hoping to return to form. We will find out on Saturday.

8 Trinity Western 27pts
Not quite as zippy against UVic as their female counterparts, the Spartans are nonetheless a legit top ten threat. The top 5 seems set at DeSchiffart, Johnston, Prajea, DeJong and Marshall. The two minute spread is a bit of a concern, however.

9 Queens’ 22pts
Gael’s alum Jeff Costen tells me he is fed up with the culture of beer mileing on K-town and is going to show the kids what a real runner can do. Costen is working with Coach Boyd on an appeal to the CIS to allow him to run the course at Fort Henry 5 times in lieu of an actual Queens’ team. Seriously though, looks like Archer is a no, which leaves Wilkie leading a fairly strong band of rookies and up and comers looking for experience for next year.

10 McGill 14pts
The Redmen had 4 guys within 20sec of each other at the Interlock. Every race has been a different permutation of a top 5, but if they can pack a full five across the line at CIS in that short of a time frame, it could make up for a lack of top end, and squeeze them into the top ten.

Only two races left! Enjoy!