2019 CCAA Cross Country Championship Recap

2019 CCAA Cross Country Championship Recap

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

In the prerace literature for the 2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Cross Country Running National Championships it states: “Considering that the event takes place in Northern Alberta in November, the weather will be unpredictable. Runners should be prepared for all conditions but the Hosts do have snow removal plans if necessary.”

The hosts, Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves, were correct in that approximately 15 centimetres of snow fell upon the Muskoseepi Park Course on Saturday for race day.

Add in below-freezing temperatures and an icy course...it was predictable that the times would be slower.

Last year’s winning time in the men’s eight-kilometre event was 26:19 for SAIT Trojans' Matthew Travaglini.  The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) would have two other runners on the podium last year with Concordia University of Edmonton Thunders' Leonard Chesoo earning silver (27.22) and Red Deer Kings' Matthew Hope (28.01).

Travaglini and Hope have graduated with only Chesoo returning.

Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder

The second-year Bachelor of Science student/athlete from Iten, Kenya had established an ACAC regular season all-time best time of 25.01 for the 8 k distance earlier this season September 7 on his home course.

He would go on to capture ACAC gold at Championships.

Chesoo’s record-breaking season would continue on the national stage with Gold status. His 27:12.27 was tops in the field of 106 runners.

He started out fast with a 6:28.75 split, with the following split times a bit slower at 6:39.15, 6:52.67 and 7:11.70.

“In one of the early (ACAC) races last year, one of the other athletes asked Leonard what he thought of the Canadian cold and he replied...”It is what it is,” said Thunder coach Matthew Norminton, of the 5-foot-8 speedster from Kipsoen High School and the quick climate adaptation. “In fact, today he was racing in shorts. He is pretty much Albertan now.”

“We knew he was going in as one of the favourites,” said Norminton. “He picked his lines when he was on the turns and we did not want to wait to the end with a kick finish.”

Carter Free of (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) St Clair College was second at 27:16.73.

Times for ACAC runners in the Top 20 mentioned below.

Lethbridge College Kodiaks

Connor Jackson (2nd year, Business Administration, Surrey, British Columbia) finished 15th with a clocking of 30:03.06.

“I think he worked incredibly hard over the last year to get where he is now,” praised head coach Simon Schaerz. “It was a huge feat and significant improvement from last year (36th). I was very excited to see him cross the finish line.”

Red Deer College Kings

Devin Saunders at No. 10, 29:33.32, Daniel Szucs, 13th, 29:57.11 and William Cebuliak 17th, 30:08.15 helped the Red Deer Kings to the men’s team CCAC bronze medal, edging the Sheridan Bruins by just under fifteen points (91-105).

Stephen Rowley (32:12), Carson Schiller (32:58) and Benjamin Arychuk (33:02) rounded out the King's results.

“They knocked it out of the park,” said an enthused coach Kari Elliot. “Going into nationals we knew there was an outside chance at grabbing a spot on the podium. To do so,  it meant that everyone had to perform to their very best and in sports, to get everyone to do that at the same time is an impossible task but we did that.

“For our Albertan boys, the weather conditions were not a problem. No one likes to run in the freezing cold and ice and snow but they were prepared for it.”

SAIT Trojans

Jacques Saayman, who had a CCAA bronze in 2017, was seventh at this outing with 29:19.89.

 "It was a good race, and there were tough conditions, obviously," said Saayman, in an interview posted on SAIT website. "But as we talked about in our team meeting, the conditions are tough, but they were going to be tough for everyone out there today. Knowing that, it was just about running smart and running within ourselves. . . It was a good, hard race."

Last year the Fort McMurray native's eighth-place finish assisted the Trojans to CCAA team silver.

This year the CCAA men's team event found the Trojans in sixth.

"Even though it wasn't the results we've been used to the last couple of years, it doesn't say anything less about this team," Saayman stated. "It was a good effort, but we know we can do better and we talked about that afterwards. . . From third place to sixth place, it was just tiny little points that made the difference, and we'll remember that."

University of Alberta Augustana Vikings

Michio Green (3rd, Physical Education, Air Ronge, Saskatchewan) placed 8th 29:26.61.  He was 24th  last year.

ACAC Women Run to Gold and Bronze

Lethbridge College Kodiaks

In the six-kilometre distance, defending CCAA women’s cross country champion Lethbridge Kodiak’s Sophia Nowicki, for the third consecutive year in a row, stepped up on the podium as her clocking of 25.22.22 was good enough for a bronze medal.

She also captured bronze in 2017.

“She is certainly happy with the way the weekend went,” said head coach Simon Schaerz. “It was certainly challenging footing and we knew we would be up against adverse weather. The benefit though is that throughout the year in the ACAC we had some miserable days. It did not faze the group too much.”

Teammates Anna Leblanc and Rosie Bouchard placed 15th and 16th respectively with times of 26:58.92 and 26:59.76

Lethbridge Kodiaks claimed CCAA gold in the women’s team event with an average race time of 26:50.

Last time ACAC women won CCAA god for team event was in 2014 when Grande Prairie was topped with silver and bronze going to SAIT and Lethbridge respectively.

The RSEQ had the overall two top individual spots with Simone Plourde (Collège André-Grasset) at 24:50.20 and Anne Federik Drolet (Cégep de Jonquière) 25:03.66.

Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder

Ana Zulic's 26:51.23 was the lone female runner for the Thunder placing 12th overall.

“It was a fantastic race for Ana,” said Matthew Norminton. She went out really smart and kept in the Top 20 and she moved up every couple hundred of metres.”

Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves

Anna Van Der Giessen was top runner amongst the six Wolves, clocking 26:14.58 for a seventh placement

Red Deer College Queens

Shayla Sklaruk just missed out on a top 10 finish, settling for 11th spot at 26:50.53.

“Honestly... I would say as a team, the women were disappointed,” said coach Kari Elliot. “I will not sugar coat it. Everyone gave 100 percent but it was one of those days where two or three of our top women runners fell during the race. You get up but you have lost positions.”

SAIT Trojans

Ann Danard was the lone Trojans woman hitting the trails finishing 14th at 26:58.50.

“We're very proud of her. She's worked very hard this year and it shows in how much she has improved from last year's nationals," said coach Bre MacEachern. "She had big goals this year, and she came so close to the Top 10. She did so great today."

University of Alberta Augustana Vikings

Resse Bendiksen’s 26:43.73 was good enough for the 10th spot.

Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves coaches Bill Corcoran and Rick Scott have coached the GPRC Wolves cross-country team for the last 29 years.

According to the website: “Together, they have nurtured and produced some of the most successful athletes in both the ACAC and CCAA, some of whom have gone on to compete at an international level. As GPRC prepares to host the 2019 CCAA Cross-Country National Championships, Corcoran and Scott reflect on their longstanding partnership and how it has shaped the running program at GPRC.”

Below is a link to the story on these two great coaches

http://ccaa.ca/sports/xc/2019- 20/releases/gprc_host_story