Men's Cross Country

CIS CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW | NO. 5 SPARTANS AIM FOR NEW HEIGHTS

CIS CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW | NO. 5 SPARTANS AIM FOR NEW HEIGHTS

LANGLEY, British Columbia – The Trinity Western men's cross country team has its sights set on achieving program history this year. With a veteran group returning and a few key recruits brought into the fold, this year's team is unquestionably the best the Spartans have ever produced and, entering this year's CIS championships in Guelph, expectations are loftier than ever before.

The Spartans have been ranked in the top five in Canada all season and on Nov. 14th, the team will be aiming for both a Canada West title and a CIS podium finish, if not something better.

CIS Championships Schedule
Saturday, November 14 (Times ET)
11:20 am Introduction – Women's Teams U. of Guelph Arboretum
11:30 am Women's Championship 6K
12:10 pm Introduction – Men's Teams
12:20 pm Men's Championship 10K
1:05 pm CIS Championship Presentations

TWU has put together an impressive season thus far and comes into the national championships after a strong showing at the BC provincial championships in which the Spartans put five athletes in the top 15 and saw all five cross the line less than a minute apart.

In each of the last two years, TWU's men's team has finished second in Canada West and seventh in the CIS. This year, having been slotted as high as No. 3 in the CIS rankings, TWU is targeting a marked improvement on both the conference and national scenes.

With a top five that includes Declan White (South Surrey, B.C.). Joel De Schiffart (Nanaimo, B.C.), Levi Neufeld (Winnipeg), Caleb De Jong (Winnipeg) and Blair Johnston (White Rock, B.C.), the Spartans have the top-end talent to put together a legitimate push for the Canada West title and to make a run at the high-touted Ontario schools.  

White has been the Spartans top finisher in each of the last two races and comes into this Saturday's event in form. With his recent results, expect White to lead the Spartans at this year's championships, but after that, it's anyone's guess how TWU's following foursome will finish. De Schiffart was the Spartans lead runner at last year's CIS championships, finishing ninth, but Johnston, who has returned to form, has bettered De Schiffart twice this season. However, most recently, at the provincial championships, Neufeld was TWU's third best runner behind De Schiffart and White, but ahead of De Jong and Johnston.  

No one can be sure how this year's race will play out, but if there's one thing that is clear, come race day, the Spartans will most definitely be a team to watch.  

CIS CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW
The record-setting Guelph Gryphons will have home-field advantage on Saturday as they look to continue their decade-long domination of CIS cross country.

For the first time since 2004, the University of Guelph hosts the CIS championships, at the Arboretum. A total of 167 athletes from 27 schools are set to compete at 11:30 a.m. in the women's six-kilometre race (up from 149 a year ago), while 178 runners from 28 institutions are scheduled to be at the starting line at 12:20 p.m. for the 10 km men's event (up from 139).

To say that Guelph has dominated CIS cross country for the past decade would be a major understatement. The Gryphons have swept the team banners each of the past nine seasons and are riding a 10-year championship streak in women's action.

In individual competition, Guelph athletes have captured six of the last seven men's gold medals and three of the last four women's titles.

However, if this season's OUA conference championships held two weeks ago are a good indicator of things to come, there might be a glimmer of hope for rival schools heading into the nationals.

While the Gryphons once again swept the team banners in Waterloo, they edged the Windsor Lancers by a single point in the men's standings and, maybe even more surprising, were kept off both individual podiums. The Guelph women did, however, prevail by a commanding 44-point margin over the Queen's Gaels.

Among significant losses from last year's roster for Guelph are both CIS individual champions, Carise Thompson and Ross Proudfoot. Katelyn Ayers, who won CIS bronze in 2014, settled for fourth place at the recent OUA meet, while Tristan Woodfine, who finished second behind Proudfoot a year ago in St. John's, settled for fifth in Waterloo, one spot behind teammate Aaron Hendrikx, the 2013 CIS champion.

"While we returned a decent number of athletes from the preceding year, we also had decent turnover and thus new faces were asked to have an impact. Both women and men had strong showings at meets in Lehigh and Princeton and were able to carry through again as team champions at the OUA meet," said long-time Guelph head coach Dave Scott-Thomas. "The depth of the conference was evident, though, as we eked out our most narrow wins in a number of years. We tend to cut our peak close to the CIS meet and traditionally see a solid bump in performance between the conference and national championship meets. That bump is going to be required this year if we're to repeat as there are some very, very good teams with very real chances of winning the national title.

"On the women's side, Trinity Western seems the major threat, and there are no less than six men's teams that could be considered in the hunt. Our women will be led by a powerful 1-2 punch in Kate Ayers and Katrina Allison, with team captain Sophie Watts and OUA rookie of the year Danielle Jossinet close. Our men are led by vets Aaron Henrikx and Tristan Woodfine, and OUA rookie of the year Ben Workman and two-time all-Canadian Christian Gravel hitting hard as well."

Athletes from other OUA schools to keep an eye on this weekend include Gabriela Stafford of Toronto, Julie-Anne Staehli of Queen's and Stefanie Smith of Windsor, who made up the women's podium at the conference championships, as well as male medallists Alex Wilkie of Queen's, Paul Janikowski of Windsor and Kevin Tree of Lakehead.

Staehli won CIS gold in 2013 and silver in 2014.

In the other conferences, all team champions repeated this season, including the Dalhousie women and StFX men in the AUS, and a Laval sweep in the RSEQ.

Individually, Dalhousie teammates Colleen Wilson and Matt McNeil finished atop the podium in the Maritimes, while Mélanie Myrand of McGill and Nicolas Morin of Laval triumphed in Quebec.

There are no cross country championships in Canada West. Results at the CIS meet determine the conference's individual and team champions. A year ago, the Trinity Western women (silver) and Victoria men (silver) both reached the national podium.

"On the men's side, we won CIS silver in 2012 and have since added back-to-back bronze medals. At a minimum, we want to return to the podium again this year, but this time we're definitely going for gold. We're a tight-knit group and have excellent depth," said Laval coach Félix-Antoine Lapointe, who is confident his troops can overcome the loss to graduation of long-time team leader Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, who claimed CIS bronze each of the past two years. "Alex Ricard was an all-Canadian last year, and Nicolas Morin and Dany Racine hope to finish in the top 14 on Saturday."

"On the women's side, I don't think a podium is realistic but we want to keep progressing," added Lapointe, whose women finished seventh a year ago, 53 points off the podium.

Dalhousie coach Richard Lehman likes what he's seen from his women's squad this fall and also predicts a good Saturday for AUS male champion Matt McNeil.

"Our women's team has been improving every race and they are very excited for this week. After just missing out on a perfect score at last year's AUS championships it was an unspoken goal of ours for this year. Now having accomplished that, the girls are extremely confident, which should serve them well in a very competitive national championship. Not very much separates the teams from second to ninth so it should just come down to who shows up on the day. Colleen Wilson and Michelle Reddy should be battling for all-Canadian spots.

"Matt McNeil is going into the CIS meet undefeated and should be able to run with just about anyone. Top five is a very real possibility!"

StFX mentor Bernie Chisholm is also pleased with his team's season so far.

"I am happy with the team's performance throughout the year and feel that if everyone runs to their potential we can be a top 10 team in Canada. We are fortunate to have some depth this year, and we are looking forward to the competition and running against the top CIS runners in Canada."

CIS TEAM CHAMPIONS
Women
2014 Guelph (at Memorial)
2013 Guelph (at Western)
2012 Guelph (at Western)
2011 Guelph (at Laval)
2010 Guelph (at Sherbrooke)
2009 Guelph (at Queen's)
2008 Guelph (at Laval)
2007 Guelph (at Victoria)
2006 Guelph (at Laval)
2005 Guelph (at Dalhousie)
2004 Dalhousie (at Guelph)
2003 Calgary (at Moncton)
2002 Toronto (at Western)
2001 Victoria (at Sherbrooke)
2000 Victoria (at Toronto)
1999 Victoria (at RMC / Queen's)
1998 Victoria (at Waterloo)
1997 Guelph (at Western)
1996 Waterloo (at McGill)
1995 Windsor (at Western)
1994 Victoria (at Western)
1993 Calgary (at Dalhousie)
1992 Calgary (at McGill)
1991 Toronto (at Victoria)
1990 Western (at Ottawa)
1989 Western (at UBC)
1988 Western (at Laval)
1987 Victoria (at Victoria)
1986 Victoria (at Western)
1985 Victoria (at Sherbrooke)
1984 Western (at Guelph)
1983 Western (at Laurentian)
1982 Western (at Laurentian)
1981 Western (at Lethbridge)
1980 Victoria (at Guelph)

Men
2014 Guelph (at Memorial)
2013 Guelph (at Western)
2012 Guelph (at Western)
2011 Guelph (at Laval)
2010 Guelph (at Sherbrooke)
2009 Guelph (at Queen's)
2008 Guelph (at Laval)
2007 Guelph (at Victoria)
2006 Guelph (at Laval)
2005 Windsor (at Dalhousie)
2004 Windsor (at Guelph)
2003 Windsor (at Moncton)
2002 Guelph (at Western)
2001 Guelph (at Sherbrooke)
2000 Guelph (at Toronto)
1999 Guelph (at RMC / Queen's)
1998 Windsor (at Waterloo)
1997 Victoria (at Western)
1996 Victoria (at McGill)
1995 Victoria (at Western)
1994 Victoria (at Western)
1993 UBC (at Dalhousie)
1992 Sherbrooke (at McGill)
1991 Toronto (at Victoria)
1990 Ottawa (at Ottawa)
1989 Manitoba (at UBC)
1988 Manitoba (at Laval)
1987 Ottawa (at Victoria)
1986 Ottawa (at Western)
1985 Western (at Sherbrooke)
1984 Queen's (at Guelph)
1983 Queen's (at Laurentian)
1982 Toronto (at Laurentian)
1981 Queen's (at Lethbridge)
1980 Alberta (at Guelph)
1979 Queen's (at Toronto)
1978 Toronto (at Toronto)
1977 Toronto (at Queen's)
1976 Western (at Guelph)
1975 Toronto (at Victoria)
1974 Toronto (at Guelph)
1973 OUAA All-Stars (at RMC / Queen's)
1972 OUAA All-Stars (at RMC)
1971 Western (at UNB)
1970 Western (at UBC)
1969 Guelph (at MacDonald)
1968 Saskatchewan (at Dalhousie)
1967 Toronto (at Guelph)
1966 Toronto (at Guelph)
1965 Toronto (at Guelph)
1964 Manitoba (at Guelph)
1963 McMaster (at Guelph)

CIS INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS
Women
2014 Carise Thompson, Guelph
2013 Julie-Anne Staehli, Queen's
2012 Andrea Seccafien, Guelph
2011 Geneviève Lalonde, Guelph
2010 Jessica Pearo, McMaster
2009 Megan Brown, Toronto
2008 Megan Brown, Toronto
2007 Lindsay Carson, Guelph
2006 Megan Brown, Toronto
2005 Beth Wightman, Toronto
2004 Kristina Rody, Guelph
2003 Beth Wightman, Queen's
2002 Sarah Dillabaugh, Ottawa
2001 Beth Wightman, Queen's
2000 Debbie Buhlers, Waterloo
1999 Teresa Duck, Western
1998 Nathalie Côté, Ottawa
1997 Nathalie Côté, Ottawa
1996 Nathalie Côté, Ottawa
1995 Missy McCleary, Windsor
1994 Linda Thyer, McGill
1993 Lisa Harvey, Calgary
1992 Lisa Harvey, Calgary
1991 Anna Gunasekera, Victoria
1990 Anna Gunasekera, Victoria
1989 Lucy Smith, Dalhousie
1988 Lucy Smith, Dalhousie
1987 Brenda Shackleton, Victoria
1986 Brenda Shackleton, Victoria
1985 Brenda Shackleton, Victoria
1984 Jill Purola, Western
1983 Sylvia Ruegger, Guelph
1982 Nancy Rooks, York
1981 Anne-Marie Malone, Queen's
1980 Sylvia Ruegger, Guelph

Men
2014 Ross Proudfoot, Guelph
2013 Aaron Hendrikx, Guelph
2012 Kelly Wiebe, Regina
2011 Andrew Nixon, Guelph
2010 Kyle Boorsma, Guelph
2009 Matt Brunsting, Guelph
2008 Matt Brunsting, Guelph
2007 Alex Genest, Sherbrooke
2006 Geoffrey Kerr, Calgary
2005 Cristiano Mauricio, Windsor
2004 Cristiano Mauricio, Windsor
2003 Eric Gillis, StFX
2002 Jamie Epp, Saskatchewan
2001 Jerry Ziak, Victoria
2000 Jamie Epp, Saskatchewan
1999 Graham Cocksedge, Victoria
1998 Jeremy Deere, Calgary
1997 Guy Schultz, Western
1996 Éric Jobin, Sherbrooke
1995 Jeff Schiebler, UBC
1994 Joël Bourgeois, Moncton
1993 Brendan Matthias, Toronto
1992 Graeme Fell, UBC
1991 Brendan Matthias, Toronto
1990 John Halvorsen, Ottawa
1989 Richard Charrette, Ottawa
1988 John Halvorsen, Ottawa
1987 John Halvorsen, Ottawa
1986 John Halvorsen, Ottawa
1985 Bob Rice, Ottawa
1984 Paul McCloy, Memorial
1983 Paul McCloy, Memorial
1982 Brian Rhodes, Alberta
1981 Paul McCloy, Memorial
1980 Paul Williams, Toronto
1979 Peter Butler, Calgary
1978 Paul Williams, Toronto
1977 Paul Williams, Guelph
1976 Brian Stride, Brock
1975 Joe Sax, Western
1974 John Sharp, Toronto
1973 John Sharp, Toronto
1972 Rick Munro, Dalhousie
1971 Grant McLaren, Western
1970 Dave Smith, York
1969 Grant McLaren, Guelph
1968 Dave Smith, York
1967 David Bailey, Toronto
1966 David Bailey, Toronto
1965 Jerome Drayton, Toronto
1964 Chris Williamson, UNB
1963 Bruce Kidd, Toronto

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