Cougars Cross Country team headed to inaugural Can West championship

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Cougars enter the dirt before they end up on the track. Elian Mikkola

Small but mighty Cougars sending twelve to Calgary to compete

The University of Regina cross-country team is making the trek to Calgary for the first ever Cross Country Canada West Championship. In previous years, the sport only featured a U Sports meet in November, so teams will be competing October 26 to make history as the first ever Can West champions. Cross Country meets run on a “low sticks” format, which means that scoring is additive based on position. For example, the first finisher scores one point, second scores two, and so on. The team of five with the lowest aggregate score are the champions. This means that to compete, teams need to field five competitive runners.

University of Regina will be fielding a men’s and women’s team for the competition. On the men’s side they are led by rookie standout and Sled Dog Open sixth place finisher Ron Mclean. Mclean is making waves already, which was to be expected from the under-18 national champion in Cross Country in 2018. Head Coach Wade Huber thinks that Mclean will be able to contribute in a big way at Canada West.

“He’s tough and gritty and loves to compete. I think we have Braden (Mytopher), Ron [Mclean] and Matt [Johnson] who can all be competitive.”

On the women’s side, the Cougars will be led by Kaylee Tymo and Kaila Neigum who finished fifth and sixth at the Sled Dog Classic respectively. Tymo was also a finalist at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in the 3000m steeplechase where she finished sixth. For coach Huber, the challenge for the women’s team will be lack of bodies.

“We actually haven’t fielded a full team yet this year, we only have five people on our roster.”

This compares to the maximum roster cap of fourteen runners, and in fact, five is the minimum number of athletes to even enter the team competition. In a sport where large roster sizes and volume make such a big difference, the challenge for a smaller program such as U of R is always to develop quality over quantity. At the 2019 U Sports Track and Field Championships for example, the U of R team contested 15 events compared to the champion University of Guelph Griffons’ 63. Despite this numerical disadvantage, the Cougar athletes combined for 13 medals at Canada West, and two at U Sports championships in 2019.

The small but mighty Cougars cross-country squad will bring just 12 athletes to Canada West to compete against teams with up to 28 competitors. However, for coach Huber, that won’t stop the team from trying to make some waves.

“I think our men’s team will be competitive for [a top five finish]. If our women are top six, it would be a good day for them.”

The Canada West championships will be a measuring stick for the rest of the cross-country calendar, moving towards U Sports and the all-important track and field season.

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