It’s East to Ontario for the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack Cross Country team.
Head coach Carmin Mazzotta will be taking a three-man, two-woman squad, including Williams Lake’s Conlan Sprickerhoff, to the CIS Cross Country Nationals in Guelph, Ont. The race goes Saturday, Nov. 14.
“I am really looking forward to getting out there and seeing how our athletes perform,” said Mazzotta. “They are a small, dedicated group. The reason we are bringing a small team is that I want to bring athletes that will be competitive and be in the mix. This year, there are huge fields — more than in previous years. On the guys’ side there are about 180 runners. On the women’s side about 167. I want to see our athletes in the top 100. Top 75 would be amazing. These are the top university runners in the country.”
Mazzotta says the large numbers of runners at the event are due to the fact Guelph is the epicentre for Canadian distance runners.
“The amount of Olympic and world class middle and long distance runners who train and live in the Guelph area with the Speed River club is pretty incredible. Add to that, Guelph has been the powerhouse in CIS cross country running for years.”
The WolfPack squad for Nationals consists of Rachel Lobay (Kelowna) and Alesha Miller (Vernon) on the women’s side with Sprickerhoff, Tony Kiprop (Eldoret, Kenya) and Brennen Smith (Victoria) running in the men’s event.
“We have done all the hard work,” Mazzotta said about his athletes’ training. “I tell them we have built the sculpture, we have done the finishing touches and now it is just a matter of getting ready for Saturday.”
The TRU coach has taken a look at the course via Google maps.
“It looks flat and fast,” he said. “We will preview it on Friday.”
As far as any of his athletes exceeding expectations on Saturday: “For Rachel, for Conlan, for Brennen and even for Tony, all of whom we get back next year, these athletes will be in the mix. It is a great learning opportunity.”
The host Guelph Gryphons are the defending men’s and women’s team champions.