High hopes for RDC X-country runners
You couldn’t blame RDC cross-country running coach Brian Stackhouse if he believes in the old adage of better late than never.
Three years after Stackhouse tried to recruit Devin Woodland out of the Three Hills Prairie Christian Academy, he arrived at RDC.
Woodland, who won the 2008 Alberta high school senior boys’ cross-country title, spent the 2009-10 season at Augustana University in Camrose, then was at Grande Prairie College the last two seasons.
“I took biology in Camrose, then switched to nursing,” Woodland explained during the RDC season opening press conference at the Wok Box South Wednesday afternoon. “I went to Grande Prairie because I wanted to also play basketball and their coach was the only one who said I could run and play basketball.”
He finished fourth in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference cross-country championships and 14th at the Nationals and also played seven games with the basketball squad.
“I got a chance to play a little bit, not as much as I would have liked, but it was a good experience,” said Woodland, who concentrated on running last season and finished third in the ACAC and 18th at the Canadians.
After last year he decided to take Stackhouse up on his offer and finish his nursing program at RDC.
“I could have stayed there for four years, but I got tired of travelling for five to seven hours every road trip, plus I have a lot of friends here.”
Moving around in the ACAC is nothing new for Woodland, who was born in Abbotsford, B.C., moved to Pakistan when he was one month old, then to Three Hills when he was 11.
“My parents were missionaries,” he explained.
He got into cross-country running in Grade 5.
“I enjoyed it. I like being active and running is fun,” he said.
He’s also been a perfect addition to the RDC program, finishing second in both Grand Prix races he’s competed in, behind Solomon Ngetich of Kenya and Lethbridge College.
Woodland placed 13 seconds back of Ngetich the first time the two met.
“It’s not that far behind, yet on the course it’s still a fair distance,” he said. “But hopefully I can narrow that gap by the end of the season.”
Woodland will also be pushed by teammate Kieran McDonald, who is in his first year out Hunting Hills. McDonald won the provincial 3,000-metre high school championship last season and was second in cross-country.
“Kieran was the premier high school recruit coming out last year and Devin was in 2009,” said Stackhouse.
Woodland likes having McDonald on the RDC team.
“I’ve never had a good training partner before and it’s a blessing to have him, we can only push each other to get better.”
Stackhouse has six men and 10 women on his team, and for the first time in years the men are expected to do better than the women. Last year the RDC women won the ACAC title and placed third at the nationals. They were led by Canadian champion Jodi Sanguin, who is helping coach the RDC team. Last year the men had only two runners.
Stackhouse expects Shafe Abdulahi of Brooks, who was originally from Ethiopia, to be his third best runner.
Also on the men’s side is Kevin Buckel of Rocky Mountain House, Kyle Nielsen of Lacombe and Tim Haasdyk of Three Hills.
There are two members of the Queens returning in Catherine Alcorn and Laura Friesen.
“I expect Catherine to be our leader and from what I see I hope she can be in the top 15, although she wants to be in the top 10,” said Stackhouse.
The other eight runners are in their first year —
Amber Thibault of Quill Lake, Sask., Anna Duda of Delburne, Danielle Fandrick of Rocky Mountain House, Jenna Ronnie of Red Deer and Notre Dame, Kaylee deBoon of Peace River, Nicole Wagner of Unity, Sask., Rinske Rupert of Three Hills and Sidney Moss of Lacombe.
The RDC will compete in Grand Prix No. 4 in Camrose Saturday and No. 5 at NAIT, Oct. 13. The ACAC final is Oct. 27 at Camrose.