The Red Deer Polytechnic cross country team is hoping its success on the provincial level will translate into national success.
The Kings and Queens will travel a short distance down Highway 2 for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross Country National Championships Saturday, which will be hosted in Calgary by St. Mary’s University.
At the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association Championships last month, the Kings earned silver while the Queens collected bronze.
“At the Conference Championships, we were the only team to have both men’s and women’s teams place in the top three and win medals,” said Kari Elliott, Red Deer Polytechnic Cross Country Running Head Coach in a press release.
“We are proud of this accomplishment, particularly with two new, young squads. This is a great foundation to build upon for future seasons.”
Overall, nine of the 12 RDP runners participating at nationals are rookies.
“Preparing for CCAA’s is new for many of our student-athletes,” said Elliott. “Devin Saunders is the only member of our team who has previously been to nationals. This experience is very exciting for our rookies.”
First-years Jenica Swartz, Justine Larson, Myah Cota, Kammy Park and Halle Reid, along with third-year Lauren Pasiuk, will represent the Queens at the national championships.
Running for the Kings are first-years Jayden Wildcat, Ethan Duret, Daniel Humbke and Wyatt Grainger, second-year Axsivier Lawrence, and third-year Devin Saunders.
Not only is the trip to nationals short, the Kings and Queens already experienced the national championship course at Running Room Grand Prix #3 in Calgary, which was hosted by St. Mary’s University. At that race, the Kings finished second and the Queens placed third.
“Having already raced the same course is a confidence boost for our athletes. The course is flat and fast which favours most of our student-athletes. Since it is a two-kilometre loop, there is plenty of opportunities to work on pacing,” said Elliott.
“The goal is to start well, settle into a good pack, and finish strong. We had a very strong showing on the men’s side on this course a few weeks back, so we will look to repeat. A few of our ladies were under the weather last time. I expect a stronger showing from the women’s team this time around.”
The Queens will race at 1 p.m. and the Kings will follow at 2 p.m.
This weekend also marks the start of ACAC conference play for several other RDP squads.
Kings’ basketball will open the ACAC season on Friday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, against the Lethbridge College Kodiaks with tip-off set for 6 p.m. The Queens will follow at 8 p.m. The Kings will travel to Lethbridge Sunday at 3 p.m., with the Queens set to play the Kodiaks at 5 p.m.
RDP Kings hockey will also get the season underway Friday, with puck drop set for 7 p.m. against the Breircrest College Clippers.
RDP Kings volleyball will open the season on the road, before hosting the Lethbridge College Kodiaks on Sunday at 3 p.m. The Queens will play the Kodiaks at 5 p.m., at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.