Six University of Victoria Vikes cross-country athletes are headed to Kingston, Ont. this weekend, Nov. 28, for the Canadian Cross-Country Championship. The championship features a very deep field including a variety of Olympic, World Championship and Pan Am athletes competing for a national title in youth (17 and under), junior (19 and under), senior (20 and over) and masters age categories. On the line are qualification spots for the junior and senior teams that will represent Canada at the 2016 Pan American Cross-Country Championship.
The Vikes will have two athletes in each of the junior men’s 8-km, senior men’s 10-km and junior women’s 6-km races. Rookies Thomas Oxland and Alex Nemethy will compete for Team BC in the junior men’s race, while fourth-year transfer Shoayb Bascal and fifth year Ryan Cassidy will compete in the senior men’s race. Bascal and Cassidy are coming off the recent 2015 CIS men’s cross-country championship win, where the pair were both named CIS All-Canadians as the Vikes brought home their fifth national banner and first since 1997.
Ob the women’s side rookie Andie Wood and second year Chloe Hegland will race the junior women’s 6-km event. Hegland was the top Vike at the recent CIS championship and was the lone Vike named a Canada West All-Star finishing ninth in the conference and 21st in the country.
The top returning finisher from the 2014 junior men’s race is 2015 World Cross Country Championships team member, Jules Burnotte of Sherbrooke, Que. Last year’s 9th and 11th place finishers Ehab El-Sandali of Toronto, Ont., and Liam Kennel of Victoria, B.C., are also registered. El-Sandali ran an impressive 8:13.52 for 3,000-metres during the summer and should be an athlete to watch.
A talented pair of athletes from Kingston should also be in the mix to make a run for the title on familiar turf. A member of the host Physi-Kult club, Cameron Linscott has won the past two OFSAA cross country titles and Ben Workman, a member of the University of Guelph’s top seven as a rookie and was OFSAA runner-up in 2014.
In the men’s senior race, Olympians Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton, Ont., Alex Genest of Lac-aux-Sables, Que., and Taylor Milne of Callander, Ont., are all sure to be in the mix. Cross country presents a rare chance for a marathoner like Coolsaet to race head to head against middle distance athletes like his club teammate, Milne.
Other athletes to keep an eye on include 2013 champion & Pan Am Games 5,000-metres finalist Luc Bruchet of Vancouver, B.C., 2014 CIS Cross Country Champion Ross Proudfoot of Sudbury, Ont., and 2014 nationals top five performers Matt Johnson of Esterhazy, Sask., and Ryan Cassidy of Grande-Digue, N.B.
The top returnee in the junior women’s race is Jennie Baragar-Petrash of Winnipeg, Man. Baragar-Petrash was runner-up in last year’s race and went on to finish 70th at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Also looking to challenge for the title are British Columbia high school champion Hannah Bennison of Vernon, B.C., OFSSA champion Madeleine Ghazarian of Cambridge, Ont., CIS All-Canadian Mirelle Martens of Grande Prairie, Alta., and 2014 OFSAA champion Branna Macdougall of Kingston, Ont. Macdougall is sure to be familiar with the course as she competes for the host club Physi-Kult.
For more on the 2015 Canadian Cross Country Championships visit http://athletics.ca/?p=360