May 21st, 2024

Kodiaks on the run at ACACs


By Dale Woodard on October 29, 2021.

First stop, provincials.

After that, the Lethbridge College Kodiaks cross country running team will eye up the Nationals.

The first stop, however, is the ACAC championship as the Kodiaks lace up their shoes for the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference provincials Saturday in Camrose, hosted by the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings.

The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Nationals is two weeks after that at St. Mary’s University in Calgary.

After some strong showings by both teams in the three Grand Prix races over the past month, Kodiaks cross country running head coach Simon Schaerz said the goal is for top-three placements for both teams in Camrose when the races hit the trail at 2 p.m.

“The men, on average, have been within that realm, so we’re expecting no different this weekend. We’re hoping for a bit more, perhaps moving up to second or maybe even first. It’s a bit of a long shot, but I think they’ll compete and make it interesting,” said Schaerz. “The women had some injury issues and we’re managing that as best as we can. We have kind of an outside shot at third place. It’s certainly doable. The big thing for us is to qualify for Nationals. Because it (Nationals) is local, there is a possibility that if the women come in in the top-five they can go as well. We’re just focusing on that. Obviously, we’re focused on coming in in the top-three and not have to worry about that.”

The Kodiaks men’s team will go after its first team title since 2015.

A pair of southern Alberta rookies have paced the team all year with Carter Van Roon and Reggie Williams each looking to crack the top-10.

Logan Danyluk and Cole Herbert will also look for strong outings to support the team’s overall scoring.

The Kodiaks women’s team – coming off a 2019 CCAA championship title – goes after their third ACAC provincial title after championships in 2018 and 2019.

This season, the Kodiaks earned a first-place team finish in the first ACAC Grand Prix event.

Second-year Kodiak Rosie Bouchard has paced the team all year with two top-10 finishes in ACAC Grand Prix events.

Teammate Sydney Crowe has also consistently finished within the top-15 all year, while Maria Boix Fryas will be looking to build upon her impressive rookie season.

Bouchard was part of the 2019 Kodiaks team that captured the CCAA championship.

“For me, I’m just making sure I’m rested and not exhausted. Running, but resting,” said Bouchard, who like all her teammates lost the 2020 ACAC season to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m happy it was back. I took kind of a long break, so I’m not as good as I was. But I’m trying to work up to it.”

Schaerz said Bouchard has been on a journey, having not run for the past two years.

“Coming back from that there are challenges and ups and downs. I’m hoping she has, just for herself, a really good race and that she’s satisfied. I think the expectations she places on herself are really high. But I’m confident she’ll do really well this year.”

The course the Kodiaks will face this weekend in Camrose is night-and-day compared to what lies ahead at nationals at St. Mary’s in Calgary.

“For the girls it’s a 2km loop and then a 4 km loop for a total of 6km,” said Schaerz. “For the guys it’s two 4 km loops. There are lots of hills, lots of ups and down. There are no flat sections, which is completely different from St. Mary’s, where it’s more or less pancake flat with a few undulations, but that’s about it.”

The preferred terrain depends on the athlete, said Schaerz.

“Some of them prefer flat. I know as an athlete I always preferred the flat, fast courses. Then there are others who prefer hills. In the next two weeks we get a bit of both. But ultimately, a race is a race and everyone has strengths.”

As a Lethbridge runner, it’s of little surprise Bouchard prefers a hilly course.

“I think they can work for you or against you. You just have to be in the right mindset. We’re in Lethbridge, we run hills all the time.”

With an ACAC title already to her credit, Bouchard’s advice to her rookie teammates for provincial success is simple.

“We’ve worked so hard through these couple of months, just give it all you can.”

Race results will be available at http://www.acac.ab.ca.

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