Classic Kitely-McInnes Final 2015 CIS XC poll at Montreal Endurance brought to you by New Balance 2014

The moment of truth is upon us. This weekend in St. John’s, all will be revealed. Will Guelph Decapeat on the women’s side? You know I am starting to think that Trinity Western has a chance. How good is St. FX really? I think they are better than their ranking. Will Jeff Costen show up? Only if Alex Wilkie begs him to.

Here are the rankings.

Men

1. Guelph 100pts

There doesn’t seem to be any strong challenge to the Guelph men’s team. Chuck PT may be able to knock them down the individual podium, but the Gryphons are just too strong.

2. McMaster 82pts

Mac gets the benefit of the doubt from our pollsters after getting edged in a tie at OUAs. I’m told that under CIS rules (5th runner breaks the tie), Mac would have won, but OUA rules (6th runner) gave it to the Lancers.

3. Laval 80pts

I had the Rouge et Or 2nd. Based on a complicated analysis of the Vic Matthews, the Queen’s Open, OUAs and RSEQ champs, I think they will come out on top. But it will be close. Returning to that silver spot on the podium would mean a lot in what is a bit of a “rebuilding” year for Laval.

4. Windsor 76pts

At OUAs places 17-24 alternated Lancers and Mauraders. 8 spots and a 30 second spread. Believe it or not, this is likely to repeat itself at CIS. It seems the pollsters think there will be Rouge et Or and Vikes strategically placed enough to bump the Lancers down. It seems like a crap shoot to me. And when it comes to gambling, Windsor knows Casinos, so I would not bet against them.

5. Victoria 62pts

Fast times on short, flat courses. Not racing enough. We’ve heard it all before. But you want to talk about spread? 5 guys within 2 seconds running a 31min 10k? Oliver Collin back to his old big-balled self giving Chris Winter a run for his money? Even if BC champs were a just tempo run (that’s how it always seems to be), this team is ready. I guess the only other cliché we have to fall back on is that the course will be too tough for their tender Island footsies.

6. Lakehead 42pts

Their big three will serve them well at CIS, but the Thunderwolves will feast or starve on the health of Mason Quarrel and Connor McGuire. If those guys can step up, this team could move up.

7. St. FX 35pts

After finishing only 5 points behind the number 3 ranked team in the nation, St. FX moved out of the 10th “reserved for top Maritime or Can West team that we know nothing about” spot into 6th. Seems like Lakehead’s performance at OUAs pushed the X-men down, and not even a fancy Workout Wednesday video could bring them back up. Still, this is a team to be reckoned with, and it could be shades of 208 when Bernie’s boys come out of nowhere to claim the silver medal.

8. Trinity Western 33pts

This is a decent team. I think they are being given short shrift because of that Ontario bias thing. They had two guys ahead of Vic’s pack, and another two solid guys not far behind. They have a 5th if you check the junior boys results, a fine run from Caleb Dejong. In the mix for sure.

9. Queen’s 20pts

Now that all the suspensions have been served, decisions have been made and Alex Wilkie is the lone experienced rider on this team of misfits, it is tough to call Queen’s much higher than this. They are an up and coming team though, and with another year under their belt, Archer back for real, they might do ok next year. As long as they stay off the Big Macs.

10. Calgary 13pts

Nice guys, work hard, love the game.

Got votes, but not enough:
Regina 5pts
Alberta 3pts
Manitoba 2pts
Western 2pts

Women

1. Guelph 100pts

Contrary to popular belief, this is actually a pretty young team, and they may be more vulnerable now than in the future. That is kind of scary because “vulnerable” isn’t really a word I’d use to describe these runners.

2. Trinity Western 90pts

The top four are within 30sec of each other and could all finish in the top 10. Unfortunately, the fifth is about 2min back which could mean a score as high as the 70s. Normally teams are much more evenly distributed, but it doesn’t really matter as long as they add up to a low score. 100 points will get you on the podium and barring massive choke job, that’s where this team will be.

3. Western 78pts

After medaling in Bob’s swan song last year, it would be understandable if the team had a bit of a let down. That does not seem to be the case, as Amanda Truelove has a good chance to lead her team back to the podium. The performance at OUA was as expected for a team that wants to be among the best at CIS. The hay is in the barn, now.

4. Queen’s 65pts

Coach Boyd claims that Staehli was not as sharp as Petrick and Stafford, and certainly, debuting the season at the conference championships is not ideal. But her competitive history suggests she will be a much greater challenge for those two young runners on the Rock. Her performance won’t matter too much in the team scores, as the most she can do is gain or lose a couple points. The team game is won further back in the pack. Girard and Murray are the ones to watch here.

4. Toronto 65pts

I honestly thought Gabriella Stafford was going to run away with the OUA championship the way she put the hammer down against Petrick at the national junior track championships. Ok 4 seconds is not that much, but still. Every time I have seen her race she has been phenomenal. I don’t imagine she is pleased at having lost and will be looking to win the thing at CIS. Toronto is in the same boat as Queen’s in terms of needing the depth to step up, only more so, with fewer “low sticks” in play.

6. Victoria 48pts

See above re: the men’s team. The squad has been slowly building, not worried about performances up to now, just getting ready for the big show. Last year was a bit of a disaster for the lady Vees, but prior to that, consistent 4th place finishes with a high of a silver medal in 2011, have proven the worth of this program. Was it that extra K that did them in last year or was it a blip?

7. Laval 45pts

The Rouge et Or were the class of both the men’s and women’s fields at the Quebec conference championships. The ladies also dominated the Interlock meet. It seems that the group dynamic that has fostered success on the men’s side has finally seeped over to the ladies team. Frederique Latraverse was a highly touted rookie last year, and she crashed and burned. This year, she’s just another cog in the wheel and the team is better for it. All for one, one for all. Viva Laval!

8. Ottawa 22pts

Finally Ottawa gets the respect I have been calling for. All they had to do was finish 5th at OUAs. This is an intriguing team that had a top 5 split of only 49sec. That will serve them well at CIS.

9. Dalhousie 22pts

Dalhousie gets the “win the AUS bump” and is slotted in at number 9. They were only 6 points off Laval at Interlock and rolled 1-2-3-4-6-7-10 at AUS. Ellen Chappel leads the way out front and the rest of the crew was within 20sec of each other.

10. Laurentian 8pts

I mentioned Ottawa’s tight top five. Laurentian’s top 5 split at OUAs was 17 seconds. That’s less time than it takes for Alex Wilkie to eat a Big Mac. In a big field at CIS, the tighter the spread, the better your chances. The quality just might not be high enough to move too much further up the table than 8th to 10th, however.

10. Alberta 8pts

Alberta tied with Laurentian in our poll. Despite a strong top two from Calgary, this is clearly the better Albertan squad, led by former Lakehead Thunderwolf Danielle Thiel.

Got points, didn’t get ranked:
Calgary 3pts
McMaster 3pts

Individuals? I’m calling Chuck PT and Gabriella Stafford for the Ws, respectively. If Staehli had not been injured this fall, I would give it to her, but I think Stafford will take the cake.

The ranker tool is still up, though seems to have stabilized. Feel free to give it a shot: http://www.montrealendurance.com/articles/cis-xc-ranker/