May 25th, 2024

Kodiaks runners hitting their stride

By Dale Woodard on October 15, 2021.

The Lethbridge College Kodiaks cross-country running team will get one more tuneup before the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship at the end of this month.

As the women look to defend their provincial and national title from 2019 and the men seek their third straight first place finish this year, things seem to be running just fine.

Still, the Kodiaks will lace it up for ACAC Grand Prix race number three this weekend as they head to St. Mary’s University in Calgary before travelling to Camrose for the ACAC championship Oct. 30.

Getting the chance to compete this year after losing last year to the COVID-19 pandemic, its still unknown if there will be a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championship this year.

Still, Kodiaks head coach Simon Schaerz said his team is simply happy to be back pounding the trails.

“I think everybody is having a lot of fun. They’ve missed this type of activity in the past year. We’ve had two meets and so far and they’ve gone really well, especially for the guys. They finished first in both competitions. I think there have been some injuries on other teams, so this weekend we’ll get a really good indication where we’ll sit going into the ACAC championship at the end of the month. But I’m anticipating we’ll hopefully be in the top-three.”

Two weeks ago at the University of Alberta – Augustana in Camrose, the Kodiaks men’s team was paced by rookie and Cardston product Reggie Williams, finishing fifth overall with an 8km time of 29:41. Lethbridge’s Carter Van Roon – another first year – finished eighth overall with a time of 30:06.

The Kodiaks women placed fourth in Camrose after a first place finish to start the season Sept. 18 in Medicine Hat.

In Camrose, they were led by second-year Rosie Bouchard, who finished eighth with a 6 km time of 27:39. Sydney Crowe finished 16th with a 29:03 run.

“On the women’s side we’re definitely in the rebuild from the national championship in 2019. We have three returning athletes from that team, so about half the team is back and the rest are all new.”

Joining Crowe and Bouchard from the 2019 team is Kayla Munro.

“We’ve had a really good season and have a really good team this year,” said Crowe. “Everyone is really supportive of each other and we’re just having a lot of fun.”

They’ll hit the trails one more time this weekend before provincials

“We just want to do the best we can do,” said Crowe. “If we can place and get top-three, that would be awesome. But if we can get our own personal bests this weekend I think that would be a big win for us.”

If there is a CCAA championship, Crowe will be able to build off thanks to the Kodiaks banner two years ago.

“That meant everything,” said Crowe. “I was just coming out of high school and trained really hard for it. We had a good, strong team and we worked really hard for it. It was really exciting to get that and hopefully (we can) again one day soon.”

On the men’s side, third-year veteran Justin Fisher leads a young Kodiaks men’s team.

“They’ve certainly surpassed all expectations,” said Fisher. “Coming out of COVID we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. But everyone has been great and it’s been a great team dynamic and in the races we’ve been able to push each and encourage each other. Everything is going great.”

Going into the first to Grand Prix races, Fisher said they knew the competition would be stiff.

“We knew Red Deer had some great runners coming back (as well as) Concordia and SAIT. So to see how we compared with them and see the results, that was just a huge team boost. We’re all really getting excited for provincials and getting our hopes high.”

A veteran of two ACAC championships already, Fisher knows the advice to dispense to the first-years.

“Just keep pushing,” he said. “But also listen to your body and pay attention to those aches and pains, make sure you’re resting them up so we’re all fresh and ready.”

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