By Evan Andrin
While my preliminary article ponders on potential VIPs, by pre-provincials, I feel that it’s high time for a roll call. At this point in the year, the contenders are separated from the pretenders, the Gryffindors from the Hufflepuffs, those with full playoff beards from those with barren upper lips. This installment of P&P [a breakdown of team rankings] is based less on how good teams look on paper and more on how they are on the course. We need teams to prove what they’ve got.
RELATED: Putdowns and Prognostications part 1.
And now, without further ado, part two (of three) of P&P. (Reminder: U Sports is what was previously referred to as the CIS.)
Having nearly been barred from an alumni brunch, [coach Steve] Boyd and co. will be happy to know they’re my favourite for the OUA title and ranked No. 1 in our second installment. This year’s team is the strongest it has been in years, and that’s no small potatoes given that they’ve been medallists in recent years including a 2016 national silver. If either Gollish or Stafford (see below) sits, as they are this weekend at provincials, the Gaels will be golden once more.
Results: MacDougall (1st – Western, 4th – Paul Short), Sumner (6th – Paul Short, 1st – Queen’s), Stephenson (15th – Paul Short, 3rd – Queen’s), Murray (78th – Paul Short, 6th – Queen’s), Steer (123rd – Paul Short, 7th – Queen’s)
Well there you have it…though [Sasha] Gollish is in for OUAs, [Gabriela] Stafford will not be racing. If this team is the Destiny’s Child of U Sports, Gollish is ‘Queen B’ – a strong Independent Woman that will help them be Survivors for OUAs. If they add G. Stafford for U Sports, expect them to be Jumpin’, Jumpin’ back to the top of the rankings. OK, enough of this metaphor…
Results: L. Stafford (2nd – McMaster, 15th – Louisville), Kelly (6th – McMaster, 5th – Western), Agustin (7th – McMaster, 112th – Louisville, 13th – Western), Shukla (9th – Western)
The Laval ladies have impressed this season despite a lack of real competition. Will they remember what true racing feels like after a season of glorified tempo runs? Sources say that Anne-Marie Gauthier (9:32 3,000, 16:36 5,000) is a “peut-être” for nationals. The rest of the crew proved themselves more than capable with an impressive second-place at Princeton. They [finally] got attention from the U Sports coaches, but to place them anywhere but the podium is an oversight by this pundit’s perspective.
Results: Comeau (1st – Princeton, 1st – Laval), Dubé-Lavoie (3rd – Princeton, 3rd – Laval), Lacourse (4th – Princeton, 4th – Laval), Bélanger (6th – Laval), Gagné (55th – Princeton, 19th – Laval)
4. Trinity Western
Mark Bomba could be awarded coach of the year honours every single year and we wouldn’t bat an eye. So who does Trinity Western have? Quite simply: Bomba. That said, the Sparts have run well and benefit from having raced the Victoria, B.C. course, the site of nationals, this season.
Results: Yee (3rd – Vic), Martens (8th – Vic, 5th – Sundodger), Williams (10th – Vic, 17th – Sundodger), Chang (11th – Vic, 16th – Sundodger), Haugan (14th – Vic).
To continue the analogy used in our last edition, without “Top Dog” Heather Petrick on the OUA start list – and perhaps not running at all this season – the Gryphs could be in the doghouse for this year’s championship. Will an Air Bud-esque individual propel this pack onto the podium?
Results: Woodhouse (2nd – Queen’s), Jossinet (3rd – McMaster, 4th – Queen’s), Wismer (4th – McMaster, 5th – Queen’s), Ward (13th – McMaster, 9th at Queen’s), Earhart (18th – McMaster, 10th – Queen’s)
Gryph-what?? After edging out Laval in a head-to-head at Princeton, and beating Queen’s handily on their home course earlier in the year, Dave Scott-Thomas and the farm boys have superseded the Rouge et Or as our favourites for the U Sports Cross-Country Championships on Nov. 12. Connor Black is in good enough shape to contend for the men’s individual title, and Josh Kellier (3:44 for 1,500, 8:28 for 3,000) has made huge strides this offseason, giving the Gryphs added depth upfront. Given a hobbled Laval squad, it should come as no surprise that the team from “Moo U” knows to make hay when the sun shines.
Results: Black (2nd – Princeton, 1st – Queen’s), Patton (10th – Princeton, 2nd – Queen’s ), Workman (18th – Princeton, 3rd – Queen’s), Kellier (24th – Princeton, 7th – Queen’s), Ubene (65th – Princeton, 4th – Queen’s)
The Rouge et Or have been bitten by the injury bug this season and have been without two of top three runners (Antoine Thibeault and Jonathan Tedeschi) thus far. In their place, Jean-Simon Desgagnes (14:16 5,000) and Nicolas Morin (14:32 5,000) have yet to find their footing. We expect them to handily win the Quebec championships this weekend in Montreal. Time will tell whether Laval can pull it together for nationals.
Results: Sikubwabo (Undefeated this season, three wins), Racine (13th – Princeton, 2nd – Laval), Desgagnes (27th – Princeton, 12th – Laval), Poher (38th – Princeton, 10th – Laval), Morin (58th – Princeton, 8th – Laval)
Just like in Jurassic Park, the Dinos are back baby. Russell Pennock (14:24 5,000) is undefeated this season and is supported by a Lorde-style cast of “Homemade Dino-Might” including Alex James, triathlon stud Stefan Daniel, and Blinded by Speed‘s Flowtastic Award front-runner, Ryan Grieco. They’ll face their strongest competition to date at the Stewart Cup in Edmonton on Oct. 28.
Results: Pennock (1st – Idaho, 1st – Sled Dog), James (2nd – Idaho), Daniel (4th – Idaho, 4th – Sled Dog), Grieco (5th – Idaho, 5th – Sled Dog), Lutz (6th – Idaho)
Wanderers of William Street whisper, “What’s up with [Alex] Wilkie?” The prospective maple syrup rancher is in mid-season form after mere weeks, and could lead Boyd’s boys at OUAs. Their core is under-appreciated without having faced much in the way of provincial competition this season, but that is due to change at the OUA Championships in Windsor on Oct. 28.
Results: Wynands (3rd – Paul Short, 10th – Queen’s), Schmidt (6th – Paul Short, 11th – Queen’s), Kanko (8th – Paul Short, 9th – Queen’s), Wilkie (22nd – Paul Short), Crowley (25th – Paul Short, 5th – Queen’s)
5. Trinity Western
Declan “Banana King” White got his feet wet at the Victoria Vikes Invitational, and sources say he was taking it easy for his return, but they don’t give out participation medals at the U Sports Championships and, likewise, we don’t give points for tempo running on race day. We hope to see a strong team effort out of these potential U Sports podium placers at the B.C. Club Championships in Abbotsford on Oct. 28.
Results: De Jong (3rd – Vic, 4th – Sundodger), Neufeld (7th – Vic, 7th – Sundodger), Colyn (8th – Vic, 2nd Sundodger), White (13th – Vic), Lam (15th – Vic, 20th – Sundodger)
Once a runner, now a fully-fledged weekend warrior, Evan is a previous OFSAA and CIS [now known as U Sports] medallist, and former captain of the Queen’s Gaels cross-country team.