Cross-country team ready for nationals this weekend

In its fourth year, the WolfPack looks forward to bigger strides

Tony Kiprop and Etienne Lavigne at an Oct. 14 event. (AP Shutter)

The WolfPack men’s and women’s cross-country running teams are getting ready for the 2017 U Sports nationals to be hosted at the University of Victoria.

The nationals will be run on Nov. 12.

The cross-country program is now in its fourth year and has made tremendous strides, but hopes to take even bigger strides at the upcoming nationals.

The team has been involved in a few competitions so far this season, the last being the B.C. cross-country championships held in Abbotsford’s Clearbrook park on Oct. 28.

Ten athletes took part in those championships, five men and five women.

The highest finisher for the ‘Pack in the men’s eight kilometre race was Tony Kiprop (Eldoret, Kenya). He finished 20th overall with a time of 25 minutes 23 seconds. Second highest was Troy Morgan (Hythe, Alta.), who finished 23rd overall with a time of 26:03. Captain Conlan Sprickerhoff (Williams Lake, B.C.) was 24th overall in a time of 26:16.

In the women’s six kilometer race, the ‘Pack’s highest finisher was Faryn Brown (Kamloops), who was 22nd overall with a time of 22:09. Right behind her was Kendra Murray (Whitehorse, YT) in a time of 22:13. Zoe Painter, (Whitehorse, YT), came 27th with a time of 23:56.

It was a decent showing for TRU and presented an opportunity for the ’Pack to get some race time under their belts.

A number of factors will play a role in the ‘Pack’s performance at the nationals, such as weather and the type of course. To get more on how preparations for the nationals are going for TRU, The Omega caught up with team captain Conlan Sprickerhoff and one of the fastest athletes on the team, Tony Kiprop.

“Feeling pretty good,” said Captain Conlan Sprickerhoff on his team’s preparations. “We’ve got a full team, seven on each side, hopefully. It’s looking really strong.”

Sprickerhoff also spoke about the importance of his team having mental toughness, especially at times in the race when fatigue has built up considerably.

“I want to see everybody work together and run as fast as they can,” Sprickerhoff said.

With cross-country being an outdoor sport, weather plays a major part in preparations, but it hasn’t hurt the TRU team much.

“So far nothing has affected us, apart from when it snowed recently,” Kiprop said. “Hopefully no one gets injured. That is the focus.”

Kiprop also spoke of what he aims to achieve personally going into the nationals.

“My own personal goal is to improve my time by two to three minutes. If i can achieve that, that would be perfect,” he said.

With it being the WolfPack team’s fourth year in the U Sports program, TRU hopes to make an even bigger impact than in previous years. The team continues to grow under the leadership of coach Carmin Mazzotta, who also looks forward to a strong performance on Nov. 12.