Keith Butler

OTTAWA (CIS) – Three University of Victoria Vikes cross country runners and two coaches will be part of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national team to compete in Poland this spring for the 18th FISU world university cross country championships.

FISU cross country website / Lodz 2012 website

The competition is set for Saturday, April 14 in Lodz, Poland’s third largest city situated approximately 135 kilometres south-west of Warsaw.

Vikes associate coach Keith Butler will be joined by Ingrid Ruys, a Vikes coach based in Alberta, at the event along with runners Stephanie Trenholm, Cliff Childs and Dylan Haight. For Trenholm and Childs, it’s their first international racing experience.

“Keith being named head coach is a show of the work that he’s put into this program and how he’s established himself not only as an associate coach here but as a coach within the CIS,” said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. “That’s one of the reasons we have him here, because he’s a very good coach. He’s going to do wonders for our program here.”

“Any time you make your first national team, it’s a pretty exciting moment,” Fougner said. “Stephanie is pretty exciated about this. Her strenght is probably on the track but to get international experience in any level of racing is pretty improtant for devleopment.”

“She’s looking forward to it,” Fougner added. “She’s got a lot of upside to her in the future, she’s really come into her own this year. I think we’re going to really see her take off this year.”

“And this will also be Cliff’s first international experience and for all three of them, at FISU cross country it is achieveable to run well there,” Fougner said. “It’s not dominated by the African nations like you experience in world cross. We’re reacing against a lot of European countries and the races are close, it’s a great culturual experience for them, too. So it’s a very good introduction to international competition for our athletes.”

Canada is coming off its best-ever performance at the biennial event, which was held on Canadian soil for the first time in history in 2010. The women captured team bronze on the course of Fort Henry Hill in Kingston, Ont., while the men finished just outside the podium, in fourth place.

Highlighting the 2012 Canadian selection are four members of the University of Guelph Gryphons, who resumed their domination of CIS cross country last month claiming a seventh straight women’s team title and a sixth consecutive men’s banner.

The Gryphons’ foursome includes Lydia Frost of Bocabec, Ont., and Carise Thompson of Lynden, Ont., as well as male teammates Aaron Hendrikx of Parkhill, Ont., and Allan Brett of Ottawa.

Rounding out the women’s squad are University of Toronto’s Tamara Jewett, University of Victoria’sStephanie Trenholm and Laval University’s Catherine Cormier. On the men’s side, the red and white team is completed by University of Windsor teammates Matt Walters and Paul Janikowski, as well asDylan Haight and Cliff Childs, both from UVic.

All 11 runners were named all-Canadians this past season after finishing in the Top 14 at the CIS championships in Quebec City, including first-team nods for Jewett (second), Thompson (fourth), Trenholm (fifth), Cormier (sixth), Frost (seventh), Walters (third), Janikowski (fifth), Hendrikx (sixth) and Brett (seventh). Haight (eighth) and Childs (ninth) merited second-team all-Canadian status.

Jewett, who hails from Toronto, and Walters, a native of North Bay, Ont., claimed individual silver and bronze, respectively, at the CIS meet on the Plains of Abraham.

Of the group, only Brett competed at the last FISU championships in Kingston, where he finished in 24th position.

Keith Butler from the University of Victoria will be Canada’s head coach in Poland. He will be assisted by UVic colleague Ingrid Ruys and Windsor’s Gary Malloy.

Great Britain is the reigning women’s team champion after finishing ahead of Australia and Canada two years ago. Japan captured the men’s crown at Fort Henry Hill, with Spain and Great Britain rounding out the podium.