KAMLOOPS, BC—With the countdown on for the 2017 USports cross country nationals, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack will get a look at the course.
Coach Carmin Mazzotta will be sending a full squad to Victoria, BC this weekend for the Vikes Invitational at Beacon Hill Park.
“It’s a bit of national preview meet,” he says. “We are going to be able to run on the course which will be used for nationals. A lot of the top schools in Western Canada will be there including UVIC and Trinity Western. They are two of the top ranked teams in the nation.”
The University of Saskatchewan, MacEwan University along with some top provincial competitors who aren’t in Canadian university cross country including UBC.
“It is going to be a great competition,” Mazzotta adds. “We are going to be running the 10 K distance for men for the first time this year and the 8 K for women. This is the first year that the women will be running 8 K rather than 6 K as part of the gender equity for women to race the same distance as men which we will be progressing towards over the next few years.”
He goes onto say: “It is going to be a great competition. Our athletes have by far, put in the most significant training block ever in the last month.”
The WolfPack have been training hard. “With running, you always want to push and train and build fitness, do speed work, build volume and do intensity. It is a fine line between training to a threshold and going too far and getting injured. We have been trying to maintain a balance and keep people healthy.”
Thompson Rivers will have seven men and seven women competing on Saturday.
“It is really exciting where our program is starting to develop to,” Mazzotta states. “We have a couple of really fit young rookies in Josh Ogilvie (Kamloops, BC) and Troy Morgan (Hythe, Alberta) who are really driven and determined. Right now we have five guys who could be number one on a given day between those two, team captain Conlan Sprickerhoff (Williams Lake, BC), Tony Kiprop (Eldoret, Kenya) and Nic Rampen (Salmon Arm, BC). On the women’s side, we have had the return of Faryn Brown (Kamloops, BC) which has been really helpful as well as the arrival of Kendra Murray (Whitehorse, YT). Kendra is a former world class cross country skier. She gets what we are trying to do here and is used to high level competition. She’s been really great. Rachel Lobay (Kelowna, BC) will be debuting this weekend after coming off injury. We are excited to see where she is. The women’s group is really strong.”
He goes onto say: “It is really about getting out there and getting into the mix with some of the top teams in the country. There are some really good athletes that they will be up against. Some of these women will be representing Canada at World Championships and Olympics in the future. Some have already done that at the Pan Am juniors and other international. It is great for our athletes to have this experience now in October and set the stage of what’s to come next month at nationals.”