It’s been a memorable season for RDC cross country, but they hope to hit the podium one final time before it’s all over.
The Kings are ranked third heading into the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross Country Running Championships Saturday. On Oct. 26, the RDC men hoisted their first Alberta Colleges Athletic Association cross country running provincial banner.
ACAC Rookie of the Year Will Cebuliak wasn’t fully healthy in that race and still earned an eighth-place finish over 8 km. After a good week and a half of recovery, the first-year bachelor of arts student is ready to lead the Kings to the promised land.
“The mindset is that we want to do even better. The Kings did have a great race, but with Will still returning to form after an injury, I expect he will be stronger next weekend,” said head coach Kari Elliott in a press release. “There is definitely room for improvement across the team. We are certainly shooting for a team podium finish.”
Dan Szucs, Devin Saunders, Will Cebuliak, Stephen Rowley, Carson Schiller and Benjamin Arychuk will compete for the Kings.
The Queens captured silver at the ACAC Championships and are also ranked third nationally ahead of the race this weekend in Grande Prairie.
Second-year runner Shayla Sklaruk of Stony Plain earned individual bronze over 6 km (24:42) at the ACAC race, but as a group, they motivated to perform even better at nationals.
“The ladies were disappointed with their team result. Despite some especially strong individual results from Shayla and Shaelyn (Moltzahn), second place was never the goal,” Elliott said.
“But it has made them hungry to get back out there and challenge for a top podium finish at nationals. As with the men’s team, having Jill Stewart recovering from injury, we hope to post a better team result next weekend.”
Fifth-year Shaelyn Moltzahn and fourth-year Jill Stewart are back hoping to improve on the bronze the Queens won at nationals last year at Seneca College in Ontario. Rounding out the Queens group this year are Caitlin Debree, Teagan Shapka and Shayna Brower.
Saturday will be the first time the Queens run the course in Grande Prairie, after passing up a chance to run it in Running Room Grand Prix three in September.
Still, race day might even provide a little home province weather advantage for the Queens. With the championships in Northern Alberta, the potential for snow covering the course on Saturday is pretty high and they’ve prepared for that scenario.
“Practically, our workouts are more focused on race like conditions and pace,” added Elliott. “For example, we ran on snowy grass the other day to gain confidence for the snow that is assuredly going to cover the course in Grande Prairie.”