Everyone and their dog is doing CIS XC predictions, so we figured we should do one, too. I am on the TNF North CIS Poll panel, and I vote in the Sporting Canada coaches’ poll, and I usually keep those votes consistent, but I may go off-board a bit here, just for, you know, entertainment purposes.
Let’s start with the women, since they go first.
1. Victoria. Yeah, I told you I was going to go off board. I know everyone sees their 9 runners under 18 or whatever it was at UBC and automatically assume the course was short. But maybe they are just awesome. Maybe adding Keith Butler to the staff full-time will vault these ladies to the top. Considering the West always seems undervalued, I’m going to go out on a limb and call an end to the Gryphon dynasty.
2. Guelph. Hard to say anything negative about this quality squad. When likely the top rookie in the CIS doesn’t make the team, that’s saying something. This is a championship calibre squad, but there is only room for one champion. Prove me wrong, Gryphs, prove me wrong.
3. McMaster. They went head to head with Guelph all season and came up short. Unless Lindsay Carson pulls off the victory, I think it will be hard for this very good team to be any higher than 3rd. Unless I’m really wrong about Victoria, then they could be second.
4. Western. Peaked at the right time for OUAs. Will they be able to hold it for another two weeks?
5. Saskatchewan. Another solid CanWest team that may be overlooked. They’ve got some horses in Souter and Warkentin.
6. McGill. The always solid Martlets will get solid runs from Porfilio and McCuaig, but the key to the team finish will be how Puel and Drouin-Audet perform. If these vets can lead the way, then the young talent of Flynn and Williams might catch a ride. The return of Madeleine Cummings at RESQ championships certainly bolsters this squad’s chances.
7. Dalhousie. Hard to compare when they only raced once against the bulk of the teams in the OUA, but they came out on top of Queens and the rest in early season at Western. Things have changed since then. Or have they?
8. Queens. My Kingston area spies were not impressed with the Queens women early on, but Coach Steve “oldster” Boyd had them in a battle with Windsor and Toronto at OUAs. I give the nod to Queens because their 5th runner was a whopping 9 spots ahead of Windsor’s 5th, which will make a big difference at CIS.
9. Toronto. With Jewett up front, the Lady Blues are relying only on four runners to make their score. But their depth is questionable. Their 4th and 5th were behind Queen’s 5th at OUA.
10. Laval. There are a lot of teams that could squeak into the top ten. Windsor, St. FX, Calgary. But having home course advantage, and the likely individual champ (Catherine Cormier) AND a top ten threat (Manon Letourneau) could boost this otherwise ordinary team into the limelight.
Individuals: Catherine Cormier will beat Jewett by a lot. Hey, I have to predict something…
1. Guelph. There is no Victoria-like challenger on the men’s side. This team warmed up 10 guys at OUA. All of them did the drills, stretches and strides. All of them lined up, until officials said, hey, only 7. So this is a deep team. This is a focused team. This is a team that is ready. Who’s going to stop them?
2. Windsor. I have to admit something here. I am a big Andrew Aguanno fan. Mostly because we went to the same high school (though many years apart), but also because he runs aggressive and he’s got the chops to back it up. The Windsor team seem to have this attitude across the board. They know they are up against a big challenge, but they are going to throw down and damn the torpedos! Will David beat Goliath? Not this time, but everyone loves David better.
3. Laval. This is a relaxed team. A fun team. A well-coiffed team. A skinny team. A fast team. And the home team. Not to put another bee under his bonnet, but Lapointe won’t roll like he did on the harder surface in Chicoutimi. But Boisvert, who was injured early in the season, has had another two weeks to grow, and Philibert is looking to get back his early season mojo with a solid performance.
4. Queens. It is going to be tight for that last podium spot. Coach Boyd is happy when his team is under-estimated. They got the job done at OUAs, without their big rookie, and with a pretty banged up crew. Veteran Max The Beef hopes to lead this team to a medal. There are no big stars here, only workers.
5. Victoria. I rank them this high because if I believe the women’s results, I have to believe the men’s results, too. The knock on Victoria every year is that they are a bunch of 1500 guys who can do the job at 8k but somehow 10k is tougher. I’m not sure another 2k makes much difference to these guys in the fall. They’ll be there.
6. Calgary. Who knows, but they always seem to do well. I’m going to throw them in the middle.
7. McMaster. I don’t know what happened to this team at OUAs. No Nova. Yorke was well back. If they can get everyone on the same page, they could be as high as 3rd. But it’s a matter of math. Someone has to come 7th.
8. Toronto. Like Queens, this is a team with no stars. No offence to Zain Ahmed. Sure they beat Mac at OUAs, but look at that 5th runner. If they can get a performance like the one Salem Yohannes put down in what I think was 1999, they could move up.
9. St. FX. It seems the glory days are gone in Antigonish, but coach Bernie always has puts together a good squad. Are they the best of a weak bunch out east, or will they have more? Last time CIS was in Quebec City, the X-Men took 3rd in a shocker.
10. Regina. No Weibe, no problem? Regina has always been missing that final ingredient: a solid 5th man. This year, they are also missing their number one. That he will be back next year, along with Fyfe, Johnson and former ROY Wyatt Baiton matters not for this season. A repeat all-Canadian performance from Fyfe will keep his team in the top ten.
***UPDATE: Weibe is on the entry list. Not sure if this is some dodge by Doc Mac, or if they are just being hopeful. With Weibe in the lineup, these guys should be in the battle for 3rd-6th.***
Individuals: I am calling Matt Walters for the win. There’s something in his eyes, and he won’t be denied.
That’s it. Are you ready? See you Saturday!
***UPDATE #2: Yorke has been scratched for Mac. They probably still have enough depth to stay in the top ten, but are no longer in the running for the podium.