Race against time
The U of R cross-country team had their sights set on the podium
With just one more race left to wrap up the season, the University of Regina Cougars men’s and women’s cross-country teams headed to the CIS championships with medals on their minds.
Heading into the CIS championships on Nov. 11 in Quebec City, the Cougars men’s team was ranked seventh, but that was with its star runner Kelly Wiebe still in commission.
Wiebe, a two-time, first-team all-Canadian, would likely have reached the podium for Regina at the CIS championships, but he was unable to compete during his final year of eligibility due to calf and Achilles tendon injuries.
With Wiebe out of the running, hopes for a strong finish were on the shoulders of fourth-year co-captain Iain Fyfe to medal for Regina.
Fyfe was looking to better his eighth place finish in 2010, which he earned after racing with a time of 32 minutes 54 seconds on a 10-kilometre course. Unfortunately, Fyfe would finish 33rd with a time of 33:46 on a 10km course this time around.
Sophomore Matt Johnson, who was also predicted to do quite well for Regina, was the first Cougar to cross the finish line, ending up in 23rd place with a time of 33:15.
Because of their strong performances during the season, Canada West recognized both Johnson and Fyfe for their impressive finishes throughout 2011. Johnson received first team all-star honours, and Fyfe got a second team all-star.
On the women’s side of things, as expected, third-year Karissa LePage lead the way, finishing 46th in the five-kilometer race with a time of 19:37. After an injury-pegged season in 2010, LePage came back strong and was named a second team all-star for Canada West this year.
Highly-touted rookie Avery Westberg finished on the heels of Lepage, crossing the finish line just 10 seconds later, good enough for 53rd place at her first CIS championships.
Overall, the men as a team ending up third in Canada West and 10th in CIS, even without Wiebe leading the way. After running as a full team for the first time in program history, the women didn’t disappoint either, finishing 15th in the CIS and fifth in Canada West.
Although no one from Regina was able to reach the podium, the coaching staff was very happy with the way their athletes performed.
“Cross-country coach Graeme McMaster and myself were very pleased with the team finishes as well as many of the individual performances,” McCannel said. “The men’s team performed to its ranking, and what appeared to be an inexperienced women’s team maintained its composure on a tough course and performed well.”
With Wiebe being the only fifth-year member on either of the cross-country squads this year, McCannel believes that the future looks bright for Regina. “With young teams performing well, it should be a sign of good things to come heading into the indoor track season and future cross-country seasons,” he said.