The TRU cross country team travelled to Beban Park, Nanaimo, this past weekend to compete for the right to be named one of the top cross country runners in British Columbia, and while none of the runners finished at the top of the results sheet it was still some valuable experience gained for TRU.
Only eight of the cross country team’s twenty members made the trip to Vancouver Island for the race, as Head Coach Carmin Mazzotta only took runners that he thought “can be competitive in this race, get in the mix and give it a good go.”
Competing in the senior men’s category were Conlan Sprickerhoff and Tony Kiprop, who finished in 27th and 30th place respectively. Brennen Smith of TRU competed in the junior men’s category and came across the line in 15th place. All five of the TRU women attending the race competed in senior women’s category with Rachel Lobay the highest finisher in 23rd place. Alesha Miller came 28th, Emma Starko finished 30th, followed closely by Nicole Vermey and Christa Miller who finished in 31st and 32nd.
Cross country is unique in team sports in the CIS in that there is no Canada West championship meet, so the event this past weekend was actually the B.C. club championships. It was a field of athletes that contained some of the top professional runners in the province, as well as competitors from other universities like UBC and Trinity Western.
“It’s nothing like who you see here at the Dirty Feet series or the Interior Running Association, these are athletes that are at a level that very few people in Kamloops even remotely touch. You get some of the top professional runners in the province that show up, and it’s a pretty crazy field,” Mazzotta said.
Not only was this event a chance for the WolfPack athletes to prove themselves amongst the provincial elite in running, but also in the eye of their coach. Due to the fact that there is no qualifier to attend the CIS championships taking place in Guelph Ontario, Nov. 14, Mazzotta will be deciding who gets to attend that event and is only going to be including runners that he feels can be competitive. While he labelled the group of runners that attended the B.C. championships as his “A” squad, he hasn’t ruled anyone out.
“Those athletes that aren’t going to B.C. champs, it doesn’t mean they’re out of the running for nationals. We’re going to see how they do in training the next week and then in our final race before nationals,” Mazzotta said.
Whether they make the trip to Ontario or not, all of the athletes on this team have put in the hard effort required to be a CIS runner. Mazzotta estimates that they run between 45 and 75 km a week in preparation for their races. So while the weekend may not have yielded the results that the runners wanted it was another valuable stepping stone for the team as they build momentum for November.