RDC Cross Country CCAA National Championships preview

RDC Cross Country CCAA National Championships preview

Brent Forster - RDC

Red Deer, AB - Many Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Cross Country Running teams would have been thrilled with the Kings & Queens' results at the ACAC Championships. As some key runners recover from injuries, both RDC teams expect an even stronger outing at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Cross Country Running National Championships in Grande Prairie on November 9. 

The Kings had a tremendous ACAC Championships in Calgary, earning team gold, but ACAC Cross Country Running Men's Rookie of the Year Will Cebuliak wasn't fully healthy. He still managed to finish eighth (28:51) over 8 km, but the first-year Bachelor of Arts student from Red Deer is expecting to improve up north. 

Will Cebuliak

"The mindset is that we want to do even better. The Kings did have a great race, but with Will still returning to form after an injury, I expect he will be stronger next weekend," says Head Coach Kari Elliott. "There is definitely room for improvement across the team. We are certainly shooting for a team podium finish."

The RDC Queens captured ACAC team silver and Shayla Sklaruk (24:42) took individual bronze over 6 km, but they are motivated to perform even better at nationals. 

"The ladies were disappointed with their team result. Despite some especially strong individual results from Shayla and Shaelyn, second place was never the goal," says Elliott. "But it has made them hungry to get back out there and challenge for a top podium finish at nationals. As with the men's team, having Jill Stewart recovering from injury, we hope to post a better team result next weekend."

Jill Stewart and Caitlin Debree

Representing the Queens in Grande Prairie will be Shayla Sklaruk, Shaelyn Moltzahn, Jill Stewart, Caitlin Debree, Teagan Shapka and Shayna Brower.

Dan Szucs, Devin Saunders, Will Cebuliak, Stephen Rowley, Carson Schiller and Benjamin Arychuk will compete for the Kings.

Training for the national event has looked similar to the team's regular routines.

"Prep for nationals has been keeping the training patterns the same, but with lower volume and intensity," says Elliott. "It is important to focus on nutrition, sleep and self-care - rolling, massage, ice baths etc."

Both the body and the mind are involved in fully preparing for the national competition.

"Also, the mental prep. Most of our athletes by now have a pretty good rhythm when it comes to mentally rehearsing their upcoming race, but we will fit in a team session where we do some visualization as well," says Elliott. "If the body is ready, the most important aspect now becomes sharpening the mind to be ready to perform."    

As snow could cover the course, Elliott and the RDC student-athletes have practiced in similar conditions in central Alberta.

"Practically, our workouts are more focused on race like conditions and pace," says Elliott. "For example, we ran on snowy grass the other day to gain confidence for the snow that is assuredly going to cover the course in Grande Prairie next weekend."

Teams will start arriving in Grande Prairie on Thursday, November 7, with the race occurring on Saturday, November 9. The women will run at noon and the men will follow at 1:00 p.m. The CCAA Awards Banquet & Closing Ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Participating teams, results, awards and photos can be found online.