Another week, another CIS XC recap. It was a quiet week in Ontario, with none of the top teams in action, but that allows us to shift our attention out west, where we finally get a good look at what the “late night” conference has to offer. As usual, Trackie has compiled all the results.
In Saskatoon, Regina’s Kelly Wiebe (21:48) showed dominant form again, finishing nearly a minute ahead of the next CIS competitor, Brad Bickley of Calgary (22:45). The course is a lightning-fast 7.5k, but the key there is the interval. Wiebe just crushed it. But back up a sec, yes, that’s right, Calgary does make an appearance. In fact, they just edged out the Cougars for the team title, though Regina was without Baiton and Fyfe. Matt Johnson had a much stronger race than in Minneapolis, however, finishing 4th in 23:00. Regina probably beats the Dinos with a full squad, but who knows who else Coach Lamont has back in his cave (Dinosaurs live in caves, right?).
On the ladies side, Regina snagged the individual title again, as Karissa LePage (15:40) continues her undefeated against CIS competition streak. She edged out Grace Cary (15:49) of the debuting Dinos on the 4.5k course. Regina also had a solid second runner in Avery Westbery, but could not put together a full squad. Calgary returns to racing on top, easily defeating the club group from Queen City Striders, and the 2nd place CIS team, the host Huskies, who were without Gabrielle Edwards. Calgary, meanwhile, put all 5 scorers in the top ten, and all look to be in the 18min 5k range.
Alberta and Manitoba fielded teams as well, but don’t look to be factors on either the men’s or women’s side, unless there are some team members yet to run.
Meanwhile, the University of Victoria men won the Western Washington University Invitational, edging out Alaska Anchorage 37-40. Cassidy and Oxland led the way for the Vikes, with 10k times of 31:31 and 31:32 respectively, Forrest Simpson and Dylan Haight completed a strong pack (31:34, 31:36). The Vikes took down provincial rivals and fancy NCAA/NAIA types UBC and Simon Fraser in the process.
On the ladies side it was Alaska who won the team title, followed by UBC, Simon Fraser and then the Vikes, lead by transfer Madeline Macdonald who ran 22:11 over 6k. The Vikes were without Pennock (who hasn’t raced yet), Therrien and Trenholm. We still haven’t seen their whole squad, but they are still highly ranked. I guess the pollsters know what to expect from this group.
Of note Alison Jackson (21:42) of Trinity Western finished 2nd in the race, and Fiona Benson (22:54), though the rest of the team was well back. Blair Johnston (32:19) was the top male finisher for Trinity Western, and their squad also beat Simon Fraser, to finish ¾ in the battle of BC.
In Ontario, the only race of note was the mid-week Western Mustang Open, where we got perhaps a glimpse of the future. The Guelph Gryphons won the meet with a team of 1st and 2nd year runners. Is there a chance Drew Anderson or Tyler Bartfai might see displacer duty with the Gryphs at some point? Maybe. A few Mustang B-squaders also participated. This meet is kind of like the AHL on the calendar: lots of grinders, guys who only want a chance to show what they’ve got.
On the ladies side it was some of the Mustang’s regular group who were out for a little jaunt. They managed to beat the Guelph second-string team in an equally meaningless contest. Meaningless from the point of view of rankings, though certainly not for the runners involved. Cross country is no tea party.
The most interesting part of the meet on the Plains of Abraham was who didn’t run. Olivier Lavoie and most of the Sherbrooke team showed up, and then ran a workout on the course, in full view of those getting ready to take on the rainy, muddy track you all know so well from last November. Lavoie met rumours that he is going to red-shirt (and he was actually wearing a red-shirt on Saturday) with a coy smile and a shrug of the shoulders. We will find out on Saturday in Fredericton, as RSEQ rules state that in order to be eligible for the conference championship, each runner must have run at least one “league” race. Lavoie hasn’t run any yet.
So the individual race battle was down to Philibert-Thiboutot of Laval and Noel-Hodge (even the English guys have two names) of Concordia. It was quite fun to watch, as they cranked up the pace, threw surge after surge at each other, and even managed to drop Canada’s most “capped” XC runner, Joel Bourgeois. If you can get Joel in a xc race, you’re doing something. In the end, Chuck PT (25:09) took the win, using his 3:41 speed to out-kick the more modestly PBed (3:56) Noel-Hodge (25:12), on the last hill. After the race, however, he was the gentleman winner: “I only beat Ryan because we do hill workouts on that hill every week. He had me.”
Laval dominated the team scores, even without their potential #2 (JS Lapointe) and their #5 (JD Labranche). Both are scheduled to race in Fredericton.
McGill sent a split women’s squad, but still swept the podium, as Caroline Pfister (14:14) looks to be rounding into form. Sarah McCuaig (14:41) seems healthy again, and Evelyn Anderson (15:01) took third.
Out east, UNB’s Frida Aspnaes (18:53) returned to take the win over Dal’s Holly Van Gestel (19:03). This was Van Gestel’s debut, but it was still not enough as St. FX took the team title again on the women’s side. UNB was second as Dal did not field a full team.
Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Graham MacDonald (27:30) took the win on the men’s side in what must have been a mad sprint with ST. FX’s Riley Johnston (27:30). Despite resting McGuire, Wesselius and Donald, the X-Men cruised to victory over Moncton. Again, Dal did not field a full squad.
Next week the focus will be on the eastern part of the country again, as the number one ranked Guelph Gryphons host a meet, and the AUS and RSEQ do battle in Odell Park, for the hopefully now annual inter-conference meet. One last race to figure things out before it starts to matter.
*Photo par Benoit Didier