In what was the final big weekend of racing before the conference championships (and Stewart Cup), some positions have solidified, others have weakened, and more questions have been raised that can only be answered by hammering around a muddy golf course for about 17 to 32 minutes. We got our first taste of cold weather, some teams showed up, and some are still in hiding. Full results at Trackie.
The Quebec and Atlantic schools converged on Odell Park for a 5k/8k showdown. Individually Frida Aspnaes (17:57) of UNB showed she’s the class of the east, and a strong all-Canadian contender with a win over Dal’s Holly Van Gestel (17:59). It was Madeleine Cummins (18:21) of McGill who lead the way for the Quebec schools, who despite losing the individual battle, won the team competition, as the Martlets took the victory 44-63 over Dalhousie, with a St. FX a close third (77) and Laval not too far in fourth (82). While McGill was missing key elements Pfister and Evelyn Anderson, Cummings showed a real strong return to form after a couple weeks off. McGill remains in the hunt for a top 5, and maybe top 3 spot at CIS.
Meanwhile, Laval served notice that they want in to the top 10. There is probably only room for one of Dal, X and the Rouge et Or. It will be a tough climb for the Quebec school, but with Laurence Cote having an off day Saturday, they have a little room to grow. Meanwhile Dalhousie finally showed all their women’s cards and it looks like they are stronger than most people thought, however, X was missing Kanneneberg, whose usual performance would have leapfroged the X-women over the Tigers. So time will tell…
On the men’s side, Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (The Nut) nearly beat the course record with a 24:46, and Emmanuel Boisvert (Greenwood) had his best race of the year (24:49) to lead Laval to a tight victory over St. FX, 31-42. Concordia’s Ryan Noel-Hodge had to abandon the race due to back spasms, but no permanent damage was done, and he will be back to challenge for the provincial title in two weeks.
Will this result raise the stock of the X-men, or will it lower expectations for Laval? This was perhaps not quite Laval’s full team, as Tony Larouche stayed home, and J-S Lapointe (The Spear) made his debut. Larouche (The Rock), Labranche (The Branch) and Lapierre (The Stone) have been running as a tight pack, so there’s potential there.
Sherbrooke finally showed all of their cards, but it was only a quick flash, as Lavoie and Mavrovic jogged around the course, looking for acorns, finishing easily. Their coach, when asked, said only, mysteriously, “One step at a time.” The fact is we don’t know what Sherbrooke can do. We know that Mavrovic has the 2nd fastest 5000m time of anyone in the field at 14:29, and Lavoie was XC champ in 2010. They are not where they should be in the results. Will the rest of that squad be able to pick up the slack? In any case, even at half-speed, Sherbrooke had no trouble with McGill, and should be 2nd at least in the conference.
The big meet in the OUA was the Vic Matthews Open in Guelph. Billed as the largest university xc meet in Canada, what it lacked in quality OUA teams (other than the dominant hosts and a couple others), it made up for in numbers. 14 complete CIS teams on the women’s side (four more than the STU/UNB open) and 12 complete CIS teams on the men’s side (the same number as the STU/UNB open), and plenty of club teams and individuals made this quite the event.
Notable in their absence from the Guelph meet were the women’s teams from McMaster and Western. Though Mac (who raced a team in Princeton) left Lindsay Carson (17:11) behind to blow away the field on her former home course, and did score a B-team that was still able to finish 3rd. Western was a complete no-show. The Stangs dominated a meet in Michigan, finishing 1st through 13th, and rumour has it they are not allowed back. The boosted confidence from such a dom-show could be just what those bitties needed.
Speaking of dom-shows, the Guelph women finished 2-3-4-5-6 (8-14) and crushed 2nd place Toronto 20-111. Toronto was missing top runner and CIS individual favourite Tamara Jewitt, but even her presence would only have lowered the score to about 87 points or so. Queen’s in an interesting case in 4th place. Rookie Charlotte Dunlap has improved by leaps and bounds this season. Their squad was missing one or two runners who could be in their top 5. This team has depth up to the 7th runner. Could be a dark horse.
On the men’s side a Ross Proudfoot-less Guelph team defeated a Paul Janikowski-less Windsor team 42-79. Andrew Nixon ran away with the win in a blazing time of 23:51. He was 15sec up on teammate Aaron Hendrix, who was 7sec up on Lancer Matt Walters. The next CIS runner was Dylan Brown of Lakehead (24:36) and then Yves Sikubwabo, almost a minute behind Nixon. Think about how far ahead of Nixon Kelly Weibe was on a bad day at Griak. There is a real big gap between the podium and the rest of the field this year. McMaster was only 7 points up on Queen’s for 3rd, but at 137-144, both are still a ways behind Windsor. Looks like history is repeating itself. Guelph………Windsor……everyone else.
In Princeton, the Mac women finished 2nd to a 23rd ranked Columbia women’s squad. Not sure how good that is exactly, but they would have crushed them if Carson had been there. Coates and MacDonald were in the 21:30s for 6k and Wyman and MacNeill just over 22, which is low 18min for 5k.
Late-breaking results from out west. Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho put on a meet and Calgary went down. The race was at about 2500 feet and it was pretty muddy. Then again, Calgary runners should be used to moderate altitude, so it shouldn’t be that far off. On the women’s side Gracy Kary (17:58) led the way, as the Dinos had two women around 18:30 and two around 19:15. They also have Alana Skocdopole they can slot in around 18:30 as well, who did not race in Idaho. Decent results, and their 6-7 were under 20min as well, which is only reasonable if there’s an altitude discount available. On the men’s side Brad Bickley (25:24) led four Dinos under 26min. The fifth, Curtis Merry, finished in 26:34. With Merry and Cloutier (25:54) in there, this was actually a stronger team than the one that won the UofS Open.
There’s time left for one more solid training week (two weeks if you are training through conference champs) before the championship season is upon us. But it may not come down to who does more work now (it’s getting late for that), but who recovers best from the work already done. It’s tempting to want to squeeze more big workouts in, but don’t fly too close to the sun!