Running towards greatness

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Wiebe is breezing by the competition – one kilometre at a time

Ed Kapp
Contributor

Since Kelly Wiebe made his CIS cross-country debut in 2007 for the University of Regina Cougars cross-country team, he has quietly established himself as one of Canada’s best and brightest young athletes – one kilometre at a time.

Despite the fact that Wiebe was not formally introduced to the highly competitive world of cross-country running until he was in the 11th grade, the engineering major has proven to be a remarkably quick-study. In just over five years since his first race, Wiebe has gone from an inexperienced newcomer to one of Canada’s finest long-distance runners, even being honoured as the Canada West male athlete of the year in 2009.

Although Wiebe’s 2009 campaign was unfortunately cut short due to a lingering leg injury, he is healthy now and expects this season to be his most fulfilling yet, which is really saying something, as despite Wiebe’s injury he finished third in the CIS championships last year.

“I’m confident,” Wiebe noted. “There’s no reason why I shouldn’t win every Canada West race this year and even the CIS championships. Honestly, if I don’t [win a] medal I won’t be happy with my season.”

Although expectations for the Swift Current native seem to be at an all-time high after three very impressive campaigns with the Cougars, Wiebe knows better than to let the pressure associated with performing at such an elite level get to him.

“I try to keep the pressure at a minimum,” said Wiebe. “That comes with experience. As you race, you become more comfortable in the situations with high-pressure.”

Although Wiebe’s accomplishments as an athlete have thus far been measured largely in terms of first-place finishes and championship appearances, Cougars cross-country/track and field head coach Bruce McCannel believes that Wiebe serves a more significant role to the Cougars track team than merely being a great runner.

“Having athletes run at high levels is very important, because the more athletes you have running at a high level like Kelly, the more the other athletes are going to be pushed along to try and improve,” said McCannel. “If they see somebody with the success that Kelly has had, they will want to work hard to achieve that. I think as a team he is very important.”

Despite the fact that cross-country running is generally viewed as an individual sport, Wiebe has always taken a great deal of pride in contributing more than points to his team.

“My whole gear is towards the team,” said Wiebe, “The individual aspect is really nice, but I really like to have a good team and it’s good to have my teammates backing me up.”

Even though Wiebe, a reigning first team all-Canadian, has a fifth year of eligibility remaining as a student-athlete in the CIS after this season concludes with the CIS Championships in Sherbrooke, Que., this November, he finds it hard not to think about a potential career as a professional runner after his university days are over.

“Hopefully I can continue running for a few more years,” he said. “If I can get a lot better, hopefully I can reach my other goals, which are pretty high up there. I want to keep the Olympics in mind, maybe in the marathon.”

Even though Wiebe has set enormous goals for himself as an athlete, McCannel believes that he has the ability to achieve even the loftiest of ambitions – both for this season and in the years to come.

“If it’s something that he keeps focusing on, he has all the tools,” said McCannel. “He has a good build, has the talent and works very hard. So it’s something that if he keeps interest in after university, I think that he has a good future in it.”

For the time being, however, Wiebe is taking it all in stride, or as he puts it, “living the life.”

For cross-country results from the University of Saskatchewan Open, check out University sports roundup.

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