The Classic Kitely-McInnes Report CIS-XC Poll at Montreal Endurance brought to you by New Balance

CIS Cross-Country 2013: Bob Vigars Swan Song Edition.

***UPDATE! BIG THANKS TO NEW BALANCE FOR PICKING UP THE NAMING RIGHTS TO OUR POLL. CHECK OUT THEIR GREAT AD JUST ABOVE. BUY THEIR SHOES!

It’s pre-season, and nobody really knows anything, so let’s get right into the rankings. This year, Montreal Endurance is hosting the CIS-XC poll that used to be over at TNFNorth. Naming rights are available. Send me a message if interested. This series of posts gets lots of hits: it’s good value for your online advertising dollar! See below for voters. They are the best and brightest distance running prognosticators out there.

Women

1. Guelph (70pts). Losing Seccafien,but retaining Lalonde, Thompson and Yungblut, not to mention Brown, the Gryphons reload with triathlete Amelie Kretz–who cut her teeth at Montreal Endurance by the way–a couple of OFSAA medalists in Sarah Spottiswood and Katelyn Ayers, and 16:42 5k runner Heather Petrick. Favourites.

2. Western (61pts). An upgrade is in order for the bronze medalist Mustangs. Returning all but one in the top (Emma Tallman), and adding Kary and Pyke (1-2 from 5th place Calgary last year), there is every reason to believe that Bob Vigars will get a special present for his final year as head coach.

3. Victoria (50pts). With the distance moving up to 6k this year, cue the jokes about the Vikes 800m prowess. Fine, but they are always on the podium, so why doubt? We never know much about this team until the end of the season, but they usually deliver. Therrien has moved on to a more lucrative position as a pundit. Otherwise, it seems their squad is mostly intact.

4. Toronto (42pts). While they lose Tamara Jewett (but only for this year, as she will return in 2014), they gain 2x OUA all-star Donna Vakalis, as well as three of the more highly sought after rookies: Gabriella Stafford (who is going to make some CIS vets look silly, I’m telling you), Maddy Kelly and Claire Sumner (from Alberta). All this and the Hennessys’, too.

5. McMaster (41pts). This team has been gutted: Coates is now at Queens, MacNeill is red-shirting at Western, Carson and Wyman are done eligibility. Still, they’ll add OFSAA medalist Phoebe Cseresnyes, and Emily Nowak (5th at OFSAA steeple), to their returning core Maddy McDonald and Courtney Patterson. This is not the Big Maroon Machine of old, but they will still be very good.

6. Queen’s (34pts). Stephanie Hulse is out, but Victoria Coates is in, and that’s a decent upgrade. With Staelhi and Soehl, there are a lot of extra “h’s” in Kingston. I don’t know if that is relevant, but this is a growing team and the voters seem to have lots of confidence in them.

7. McGill (21pts). The Martlets are going through some high turnover, but their depth should save them from falling out of the top ten. Jess Porfilio returns as the top runner, and Jullien Flynn, already a big-race performer, has upped her base fitness to 18-flat 5k shape. 3xOFSAA medalist and Canadian youth 3k champ Emma Norman returns to Canada from the NCAA healthy and ready to roll.

8. Windsor (20pts). It’s a log-jam at the bottom. As previously noted, no one knows anything yet. Windsor lost their top runner, Jenn Corrick, but have a load of freshmen coming in, including Stefanie Smith out of the London Runner Distance Club.

9. Calgary (19pts). Losing their top two (and to Western no less) will hurt, but 4 of the rest of the top 7 return, and a couple sub-5min 1500 girls will add depth. Calgary is always in the mix, but the pollsters want to see some evidence before returning them to their top 5 spot.

10. Dalhousie (9pts). Personally, I think Dalhousie is underrated here. But I just tabulate the scores. Van Gestel and Chisholm are gone, but the rest of the 8th place core is back, plus 3 new runners with varying levels of credibility: a professional cyclist, a 1:24 half marathoner, a top 10 finisher at the Canadian College championships, and a 22nd OFSAA XC finisher. Good things could come of this.

Other teams getting points: Trinity Western (6), Waterloo (4), Laval (3), St. FX (1)

Men

1. Guelph (70pts). Nixon, Hendrikx, Proudfoot and Sikubwabo all return. Christian Gravel, who was a rookie last year, but didn’t race much for the Gryphs, still ended up at World Cross for the Canadian junior team. He could be ready to make his entrance. It’s also handy to have a guy like Romaniw, who raced at World Championships, on the squad. It also looks like Tristan Woodfine will finally make an appearance, and, finally, though they were 4th and 5th at OFSAA XC respectively, I wouldn’t expect to see Logan Chappel and Brandon Kirkup crack Guelph’s top 5. That’s probably ok for them though.

2. Laval (62pts). Everyone is back, and it seems they are healthy. The already deep group adds transfer Ben Raymond (2nd at QSSF between the guys who ended up 14th and 15th at CIS, but he did not have a great CIS himself), and CEGEP strongmen Dany Racine, Antoine Thibeault (international steeple and 10000m experience) and Nicolas Morin. Philibert-Thiboutot is over in France at the moment, getting ready to race against Suleiman and other 3:30 guys, but there is no doubt he will be ready when the time comes. And he’ll have plenty of help.

3. Victoria (53pts). We have no information on Victoria, other than the fact that they are Victoria, which apparently is enough for a near unanimous podium spot. Well done, Vikes!

4. Windsor (46pts). There seems to be some conflicting information out there, but according to the coach, the only loss for the Lancers on the men’s side is Matt Walters. That’s not a small loss, but the pack of Falk, Meloche and Kegel are back and will be joined by rookies MacMackin (son of the UNB cross country legend) and Kagumba (OFSAA steeple finalist). Windsor got bumped down a bit from their usual spot, but they, like Victoria, are always there in the end.

5. McMaster (41pts). Mac brings back their top 6, and will get the added depth of Jordan Bierema, who was injured mid-way through last season. With Sanders out front, Darlington, Reid, Morgan and the Forbes’ will make for a solid bunch. This is where we start flipping coins.

6. Queen’s (36pts). Queen’s loses Patterson and Costen, and that is a lot of manhood that’s been dropped right there. Still, this is a tough squad, and they will surely bring the rookies Wilkie and Wanuch into the fold and make them understand the work ethic required to be part of a Steve Boyd-coached team. They will grind.

7. Lakehead (30pts). The rise of Lakehead continues. Last year this team finished in the top 10 for the first time in…a while, I guess. They return their top four runners and get one of the most sought-after transfers in Connor McGuire. Playing the “what-if” game: put McGuire on their team from last year and they move up 72 points and into 8th place. So you see what a top-20 finisher can do.

8. Calgary (13pts). There is really a drop-off in points here. I think this speaks more to the lack of information than a lack of confidence in the teams left, and it is certainly not an indication that the top 8 spots are locked down. Calgary is returning 4 of their top 7, but the three they are losing are 1-4-5 so that hurts. They are adding some low-4min 1500 guys which could help, if they come to play.

9. Dalhousie (9pts). Dal sent only 2 runners to London last year, and they were in the mid-60s. Five guys like that is not enough to crack the top ten, but they will get an interesting transfer in Oliver Hatheaway, who ran for Queen’s previously. St. FX’s losing McGuire could upset the balance of power in the east, but only if the Tigers come up with something. This will be a team of grinders. Rookie Will Russell was an OFSAA finalist, so he could inject some quality.

10. Trinity Western (7pts). According to the coach “Men’s team has more depth but does not have the higher end athletes that the girls do.” Yet somehow they are ranked, and the women are not. It was close with Toronto (who is getting Hashi), so we’ll see how things shake out. TWU are adding Declan White, a 3:50 1500 man, and BC’s high school steeple champ Adam Marshall.

Other teams getting points: Toronto (5), Western (4), Sherbrooke (2), St. FX (1), Laurier (1)

If you have complaints, you can blame the following people: Chris Moulton (coach at Speed River/Guelph), Adam Stacey (owner Trackie.ca), Rebecca Pieterson (captain/assistant coach at Western University), Steve Gersten (coach Queen City Striders, Regina SK), Jeremy Walsh (McMaster University alum), Brittany Therrien (Victoria University alum), John Lofranco (coach at McGill Olympic Club)