Men’s pre-season poll from the Classic Kiteley-McInnes CIS-XC poll at Montreal Endurance brought to you by New Balance

Hey guys, Charles P-T reporting here! Super happy to get involved with Montreal Endurance for some CIS XC preds this year; I always loved reading those and I think nothing can beat the hype surrounding CIS XC predictions. As a runner I loved shamelessly rooting for my team and I am excited to take part in this as a spectator; turning the page on collegiate XC is hard!

This year is going to be an exciting one for men’s CIS cross-country championships (as always, really). I mean this as a lot of CIS’ top track and XC stars are gone, at the same time, leaving the place for some promising talents to step it up and become themselves legends (although legends are made on and off the course…). Who is going to replace Proudfoot, Riva, Sikuwabo, Johnson and Philibert-Thiboutot? The top end might not be as strong this year compared to 2014, but the dept is there and has the potential to showcase some of the best CIS runners ever in the next few years.

University of Guelph  –  100pts

Not much else was expected for the top spot, let’s be realistic here… although this team is not looking as good as it has in the past. Losing Ross Proudfoot and Yves Sikuwabo seems like a big blow, but yes, they still have an almost certain 1-2 punch. Hendrikx is coming off a fresh PB over 10 000m this summer and T-woody has had his first shot at the marathon this year. I mean, how is running 10k cross supposed to be hard when you’ve bombed big time in a Marathon? He’s been in a zone nobody in the CIS has touched and he’s going to be ready and put everyone in the hurt locker. Although we have this stellar top 2, this year Guelph does not seem to have a rock solid top 5 that could just fill up easily the first team AC like it did in the past. Guys like Gravel and Gordon are expected to step up their game – which is likely under DST’s magic XC programs. They also have junior mid-d star and potential ROY Mark Patton stepping in; but what is he worth over 10k XC? But hey…wait a second here…I see Robert Winslow on that roster… 2 :19 marathon…damnit they might not be that weak after all…

Université Laval  –  83pts

This team suffers arguably one of the biggest losses with CPT finally graduating – I heard he’s now moved to Beverley hills trying to make it into the «hair modelling» business. Too bad for his running career…Anyways, how are they going to respond? By having the deepest team in the CIS – they literaly have 13 guys who have run under 14 :45 in the 5k, with notable returners in Benjamin Raymond, Nicolas Morin, Dany Racine, Alexandre Ricard, Gabriel Legeault, JD Labranche and Alexis Lavoie-Gilbert. They also have 2 vets returning from injuries–Manny and JS–and a dark horse rookie in Alex Bussières, either capable of going all-Canadian or not making the team at all. This team has a lot of question marks, but the good problem when having such a deep team is who to bring at the big dance? You might leave guys at home that on the day could bring it better than some guys actually on the line. This is the big task at hand for coach Lapointe: bringing the right top 7 that will actually go top 25 on the day – which is, statistically, unlikely, but when you have that depth, possible. And as some of us know, Felix is a very good gambler. Les boys are back baby, and ready to work hard for a podium spot for the 4th year in a row.

McMaster University  –  79pts

This stellar team of notoriously hairy individuals is hungry and angry for more (intended goofish pun from french dude). Led by none other than The Captain Morgan himself, this is the other team that has the depth to rival Guelph and Laval, and proof of that is in the process of their 4th place at CIS last year : it was no other than their 7th ranked guy that was the team’s top runner. And now, everyone returns, the triathletes now taking the XC season seriously and all of the roster has run well this summer, sign of great things to come. Also, if Connor “sexy-legs” Darlington runs has good as he’s done on the track this summer, they might have the low stick they lacked in the past. This team is dangerous, and I bet they can still taste the bitterness in their mouth from when I told them last year that one of our top guys (Laval) was not in the results, thus robbing them the bronze medal they had been celebrating for a while. This team is all in and ready to bounce back.

University of Windsor  –  60pts

You can never count Windsor out. It is a team that has been in the mix for years, and maybe outside of Guelph, the most consistent team in the circuit. We are past the golden era when this team would line up superstars like Mauricio, Weston, Aguanno and Walters, but coach Gary has a nonetheless a very talented group of individuals at hand. Can 800m man Corey Bellemore step up his game on the grass to lead the team back on the podium spot, which they missed for the first time last year in 7 years? Can Pauly-J come back to the promising fitness he showcased as a rookie? Some key returners will have to lead the way for the team to elevate itself back into podium contention come November.

University of Victoria  –  56pts

This is a mysterious team that feeds itself with rumours all year long, and on the verge of the 2015 season, it is no different. They suffer the loss of 3:37 1500m man Thomas Riva, but are also rumoured to have lost Olivier Collin and Ryan Cassidy, so their entire top 3 from last year and all with AC status. Ouch. Although they proved to us last year that they can bring it on championship day and back up all the ridiculous results achieved in the year on the «short west coast courses», you can’t deny losing such a top 3 will hurt. Now their faith in claiming again a podium spot resides in if Ryan and Collin are officially gone or just messing around with us and coming back, and if runners like Bocksnick, Peterson and Therrien can step up to an AC status and lead the team to greater heights.

Lakehead University  –  50pts

WHO THE HELL IS KEVIN TREE?! Seriously, the guy is an absolute XC beast and after his international debut in the event last March, he is ready to claim an individual podium spot and be a low stick for the team. Another possible low stick is Dylan Brown, XC prodigy that had a CIS champs result sheet that suggests he’s on a similar path to all time greats like Proudfoot, Genest and Boorsma: 5th as a rookie in 2013 and 4th place last year. French Ontarian Dominique Aulagnon isn’t too shabby either, having run 70 minutes for the half this year. They most certainly have one of the best 1-2 punches of all the teams competing at CIS, but as we all know, what really makes a team are your 3rd, 4th and 5th runners. We will have to wait and see how the rest of the team runs before calling them podium contenders.

Trinity Western University  –  38pts

It seems like most of the non-Guelph top end talent in the country right now sits in the teams in the second half of the top ten, as we have a legit medal threat in Declan White from TWU. Leading the team with him are Joel Deschiffart and Blair Johnston, both have AC potential, but they do not have a record of steady performances in the last years; if they live up to the hype they can carry TWU to a top 5 performance.

Queen’s University  –  26pts

Queen’s has one of the best talents in the country right now in Alex Wilkie, who showed great range in only his second year, last year, with a top 10 showing in Newfoundland and a bronze in the 1500m in track. Not sure what is happening with Dave Cashin and Jeff Archer, who are rumoured to run and could round out a very solid top 3 for Queen’s. And even though we don’t know much about the rest of the pack, you know coach Boyd will have them peak at the right time, or what the hell he’ll jump in and take the start.

St. Francis Xavier University  –  18pts

St-FX reminds me on Laval’s team Circa 2010 : a team of young bucks ready to work hard and party hard. Led by 4th year Scott Donald, it is a very deep group that, once it matures, will be very dangerous. Like the St-FX team that medaled back in 2008 and was top 5 in 2009, they don’t have any major players but rather a tight pack that works his way up the field. After having encountered the guys last year at the interlock, I have a good feeling about this team. They are motivated and hungry for more: all they need really to step it up in training.

McGill University  –  15pts

McGill features this year’s dark-horse runner : François Jarry. He tore up the long-distance track scene in Quebec this summer, claiming the top ranking in the 5000m in Quebec as well as the provincial title at 10 000m, in his first year on the circuit. He is certainly an unpolished diamond, which can be very unpredictable in XC; however, look out for him to duke it out with the Laval guys at the front of the pack. McGill has also acquired some notable rookies in Sergio Raez, Jeremy Briand (my boy JAY-B) and Phil Duschene. As long as their Ontarian rookies do not fall to the temptation of eating poutine everyday once in La Belle Province, they should do all right.

University of Calgary  –  13pts

Calgary surprised last year squeaking in the top 10 as a team and placing 2 in the top 20 that should be back : Roman Justinen and ROY Russel Pennock. Although they lose Gareth Hadfield, the rest of the team is young and has the potential to improve a lot. We will have to see how the back of the pack improves before moving them up the ranking.