ACAC Cross Country Championships Wrap-up

ACAC Cross Country Championships Wrap-up

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

Everything went to script at the 2018 Running Room Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Cross Country Championships which were held Saturday at Vermillion Running Course and hosted by Lakeland College Rustlers.

In a prerace feature posted on this ACAC website, we predicted that "the podium finish would find men defending champion SAIT Trojans Matthew Travaglini (4th year, Geomatics Engineering Technology) gliding for gold in the 8 kilometre distance with Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder rookie Leonard Chesoo (1st year, Bachelor of Science, Iten, Kenya) coming in with a silver with the bronze medal going to Red Deer's Matthew Hope (3rd year, Bachelor of Education Secondary, Red Deer Alberta).

"On the outside ready to discredit the prerace prediction are the likes of Trojans' Jacques Saayman (3rd year, Bachelor of Business Administration, Fort McMurray, Alberta) and Darryl Ross (3rd year, Business Administration, Calgary Alberta)."

Well....that's exactly what happened as the Top 5 to cross the 8 kilometre distance in a field of 54 were: Matt Travaglini 25:26.95, Leonard Chesoo 25:46.58, Matthew Hope 26:19.06 , Jacques Saayman 28:03.46 and Darryl Ross 28:14.89.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Timothy Kimaiyo 28:15.65 (Lethbridge), Brant Lauweryssem 28:16.40 (SAIT), Connor Jackson 29:17.92 (Lethbridge), Daniel Szucs 29:28.12 (Red Deer) and Michio Green 29:35.12 (University of Alberta Augustana).

"We knew that Leonard (Chesoo) and Matt (Hope) would stick with our Matt (Travaglini), so we told him to push the pace from the beginning," said Trojans co-coach Bre MacEachern. "He was going to go out hard and not worry about the pacing and we told him that he had that next level to give.

"Matt (Travaglini), Leonard (Chesoo) and Matt (Hope) were together for the first half of the race and then Matt (Travaglini) and Leonard took off and then Matt surged for the last couple of kilometres."

In the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men's cross-country polls the SAIT Trojans were ranked No. 1 followed by Red Deer Kings, No. 5, University of Alberta Augustana Vikings No. 10, Lethbridge Kodiaks No. 13, Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder No. 14 and Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves No. 15.

2018 ACAC Men's Cross-Country Running Champions,
SAIT Trojans

In the women's field, the prediction was Kodiaks' Sophia Nowicki (2nd year, Nursing, Bragg Creek, Alberta) crossing the 6 k distance first.

Wearing bib No. 61 she did not disappoint with an impressive 23:53.

We mentioned that her challenge would come from either Emilie Mann from SAIT or Jill Stewart from Red Deer.

Mann would place second 24:18 and Stewart third at 24:23.

Also written, was  that on her heels would be Rebecca Johnson, St Mary's University Lightning, Elsie Nawrocki, Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder and Kodiaks' Emily Spencer.

Guess what?

Johnson was fourth (24:37), Narwocki fifth (25:08) and Spencer seventh (25:32).


Spencer seventh?

It looks like the 2018 Running Room Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships didn't go exactly 100% as scripted as 10 out 11 were correct.

Breaking the crystal ball was Shayla Sklaruk of Red Deer (25:19) placing sixth in the women's field of 51.      

"I am very proud of the way Emily (Spencer) ran," said Kodiaks coach Bertil Johansson, of the 5-foot-4 Calgary native who is registered in nursing. "Emily led for most of the race and she ran a gutsy race and we couldn't have asked more from her.

"She did get caught at the end (by Sklaruk) but Emily is in nursing and it is heavy in academics, so it is hard in that she can't train and run all of the time."

Of gold medal winner Kodiak's Sophia Nowicki performance, Johansson added: "We knew Sophia was going to go for the gold and we are not surprised that she won. She surged the last couple of kilometres."

Of the fact that the ACAC provincial feature only ACAC runners and is not an open event as are the rest of the ACAC Grand Prix events held during the season: "It's great. It's just the ACAC teams and everybody knows the colours of the shorts ahead of you or behind you."

2018 ACAC Women's Cross-Country Running Champions,
Lethbridge College Kodiaks

In the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association women's cross-country polls the Red Deer Queens had the best ACAC representation at No. 2, with the Lethbridge Kodiaks No. 3, Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder No. 7, SAIT Trojans No. 8, St. Mary's Lightning No. 14 and Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder No. 15.

The ACAC Men's team event went to SAIT followed by Red Deer and Lethbridge while the women's team title was captured by Lethbridge followed by Red Deer and Concordia.

For Kodiaks' coach Johansson, the women's team gold bookends a 32-year career coaching at Lethbridge; winning a women's cross-country title in in 1987 with an additional four ACAC women's titles and  eight ACAC men's titles in-between.

A large contingent from the ACAC will attend the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross-Country Championships hosted by Seneca College November 9-10, 2019 at Oak Ridges Moraine just north of Toronto, Ontario.

"We are excited for our guys," said MacEachern. "Our top four guys look awesome and we are looking forward to improving on (the bronze medal) performance from last year (2017 Hosted by Collège Lionel Groulx, Ste-Thérèse, QC).

Of Sophia Nowicki's chance at Oak Ridges Moraine, Johansson concluded:  'She finished third last year (22:01.8 at CCAA Championships) and knowing that she is stronger this year, we will see how she does when she runs at sea level. She has a good chance to medal."