Queens earn bronze, Hope wins bronze at cross country nationals

Photo - Tony Hansen
Photo - Tony Hansen

 Brent Forster - RDC with information from the CCAA

Seneca College King Campus - On an icy course in below-freezing temperatures, the RDC Queens and Kings ran hard in challenging conditions and they came home with some hardware at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Cross Country Running National Championships in Ontario. The Queens finished third as a team, capturing national bronze. Jill Stewart was tenth, which brought All-Canadian recognition. 

Jill Stewart  Photo - Tony Hansen

Matthew Hope led the way for the RDC Kings, earning individual bronze and was named an All-Canadian. 

Matthew Hope  Photo - Tony Hansen

"We are really pleased with the results and are so proud of our RDC runners," says Kari Elliott, RDC Cross Country Running Head Coach. "The course was congested and it was a battle out there. For our rookies especially, it was an eye-opening experience."

Lethbridge College's Sophia Nowicki overcame white-out conditions to capture the 2018 CCAA Women's Cross Country Running National Championship. 

The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) champion completed the six-kilometre course in 23:32 to capture the gold medal. 

Finishing four seconds back (23:36) was Simone Plourde of Andre-Grasset, who was unable close the gap down the home stretch despite her best efforts over the final 150 metres. 

Anne-Frédérik Drolet of Jonquiere was the third runner to cross the finish line and the only other competitor to crack the sub-twenty-four minute time (23:44).

The two RSEQ runners found themselves chasing Nowicki for the majority of the race as the three distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. With Nowicki clinging to a narrow edge at the halfway point, she saw her lead disappear. Nowicki regained her lead for the final time around the five kilometre mark as the runners completed a substantial incline, nicknamed Sting Hill.

After nearly a week of course preparation, the unexpected November cold hit Seneca's King Campus, blanketing the previously wet and leaf-covered course with a white dusting of snow. The wet snow froze overnight, leading to last minute chaos by the hosts to make a safe course for the nation's top runners to compete on.

In the team competition, the Fanshawe Falcons captured the national championship after placing two runners in the top five in team points. The Falcons were led by Janelle Hanna (24:06) and Sammi-Jo Burch (24:22). Rachyl MacPhail (25:24), Laura Travaglini (25:54) and Hannah Carley (26:25) rounded out the Falcons' results.

The Lethbridge Kodiaks captured the silver medal and were led by Nowicki. Emily Spencer (25:15), Salma Moreira (26:16), Janelle Graham (26:26), Rebecca Sweeney (27:28) and Brooklyn Vogel (28:22) joined Nowicki on the podium.

Capturing the bronze medal were the Red Deer College Queens. Jill Stewart (24:30) paced the Queens, finishing tenth, and was joined in the top-twenty in team points by Shayla Sklaruk (25:43) and Shaelyn Moltzahn (25:49). Caitlyn Debree (26:46), Deshann Velentine (27:38) and Teagan Shapka (29:29) rounded out the Queens' results.

Men's results

Individual ACAC male runners dominated the championships. SAIT's Matthew Travaglini blazed through the eight-kilometre course in a time of 26:19 to capture the 2018 CCAA Men's Cross Country Running National Championship.

The reigning ACAC champion finished more than a minute ahead of the second place runner and nearly two minutes ahead of the bronze medalist.

Two weeks after capturing his conference championship, Travaglini quickly familiarized himself with the challenging course and then dominated the field 24 hours later in one of the best performances the course has seen in its seven year history.

Leonard Chesoo of Concordia University finished with a respectable time of 27:22, but was never a real threat to Travaglini. Matthew Hope of Red Deer College rounded out the podium in 28:01.

"The Kings were sixth but were only 13 team points back of third, so it was very close," says Elliott. "The weather and course conditions were factors. It had snowed and rained on Friday and that area had received rain 28 of the past 30 days. The course was wet, slippery and hard to gain traction, and some runners went down. By the time of the men's race, it was snowy and windy. Times were not super fast."

As runners prepared for the start of the race, snow began to fall on the King Campus course, creating a scene out of movie as spectators crowded the starting area to catch a glimpse with limited visibility.

The St. Clair Saints followed up their Ontario Colleges Athletic Association Championship with a national championship. The Saints showed that consistency prevails over star power, placing four runners in the top 15, but no higher than eighth overall. Tyler Jones led the Saints with a time of 28:41. Andre Tomasian (29:07), Thador Tekhli (29:11), Rick Nepomuceno (29:11), Tyler Tofflemire (31:44) and Jack Porter (31:57) rounded out the Saints' times.

Led by Tavaglini, the SAIT Trojans captured the silver medal. Jacques Saayman (28:33) joined Travaglini in the top six while Daryl Ross (29:39), Brant Lauweryssen (30:06), Mathew Hebert (31:20) and Jemmy Lee (32:26) also collected national medals.

Champlain Saint-Lambert captured the team bronze medal, edging the Sheridan Bruins by just six points (111-117). Karl Belley (28:42) cracked the top ten in team points followed by Jasmin Bellerive (29:57), Christopher Quesnel (30:16), Jeremy Burg (30:43), Samuel Cote (31:15) and Emile Garon (32:13).

"After the competition, everyone felt extremely positive about the performances and it's especially exciting for our returning runners next year," says Elliott.

The Grande Prairie Wolves will host the 2019 CCAA Cross Country Running National Championship.