October 19th, 2020

Kodiaks runners lace up for gold again


By Woodard, Dale on October 28, 2019.

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

sports@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge College Kodiaks women’s cross country running team successfully defended their title.

As a result, they’re not done yet.

The Kodiaks won their second Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship at provincials – hosted by the SAIT Trojans – Saturday in Calgary.

The team was ranked first in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association heading into the weekend.

Third-year Kodiak Sophia Nowicki increased her Canadian college winning streak to 10 races en route to her second individual ACAC title.

The product of Bragg Creek ran the 6km snow covered course in a time of 24:04, a full 24 seconds ahead of second place Emilie Mann of SAIT, to become eighth woman to ever repeat as ACAC champion.

Nowicki’s performance also earned her the ACAC Runner of the Year and earned her a spot on the ACAC all-conference team as she and the Kodiaks women’s team head to Grande Prairie in two weeks for the CCAA championship Nov. 8-9.

On the men’s side, the Kodiaks placed fourth and missed the podium by a mere eight points and will not join the women’s team in Grande Prairie.

The accolades didn’t stop there as Kodiaks coach Simon Schaerz was named the ACAC Coach of the Year. It marked the third time a Kodiaks coach has been named ACAC coach of the year after former coach Bertil Johansson earned the honour in 2003 and 2015.

Kodiaks rookie Rosie Bouchard placed eighth in the women’s race, while Vildana Rekic was 13th. Janelle Graham was 14th and edged out Red Deer College’s Caitlin Debree in a dramatic race to the finish line to earn valuable points for the Kodiaks.

“Sophia was first and also defended her individual title and that obviously helped propel the team to first place as well,” said Schaerz, whose team will head to nationals looking to medal again after winning silver last year. “On the team side we were ahead by eight points on Red Deer College. We expected it was going to be a little bit closer (Saturday), but a lot of our athletes, especially numbers three and four on our team, really put in a huge performance and that put us ahead.”

Connor Jackson paced the Kodiaks men with a fifth place in the 8km race in a time of 27:51 and was named to the ACAC all-conference team.

Cooper Cheshire also turned in a top-10 effort, finishing in ninth place in a time of 29:09, while Justin Fisher was 11th.

The men’s team finished eight points behind the University of Alberta Augustana.

“The men fought hard,” said Schaerz. “They showed a lot of grit. Connor, Cooper and Justin each had personal best performances. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t quite enough to get on the podium.”

Schaerz joined the Kodiaks as an assistant coach in 2015 and was promoted to co-coach in 2017.

He was named head coach of the Kodiaks cross country and indoor track teams in January.

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