Fifth-year University of Alberta Panda cross-country runner Karissa LePage has been named to the Canadian university squad for the 20th FISU World University Games in Cassino, Italy. LePage will be one of 11 CIS runners from across the country to take part in the international event.
LePage had arguably her best season in the green and gold, as her time of 21:05.3 in the CIS national tournament in Guelph slotted her in 13th overall. The top-15 finish earned her a CIS second team all-Canadian honour, as well as a Canada West first team all-star spot.
A fifth-year Masters of Science student at the U of A, LePage was also honored as the Canada West Community Service award winner. She has volunteered extensively during her time at UAlberta, working to help rehabilitate adults who have acquired brain injuries, while also spending time with post head and neck cancer treatment patients.
The biennial competition is set for Saturday, March 12 in Cassino, a city of 36,000 in the province of Frosinone, at the southern end of the region of Lazio.
As was the case in 2014 in Entebbe, Uganda, the Maple Leaf contingent is comprised entirely of athletes who merited CIS all-Canadian status this past university season.
Highlighting the men’s roster are three members of the reigning national champion University of Victoria Vikes, who put an end to a nine-year domination by the Guelph Gryphons at last month’s CIS championships. Ryan Cassidy of Grande-Digue, N.B., Olivier Collin of Saint-Lazare, Que., and Forrest Simpson of Nanaimo, B.C., are representing the Vikes and will be accompanied in Italy by Dalhousie’s Matt McNeil (Saint John, N.B.), McMaster’s Blair Morgan (Yarker, Ont.) and Lakehead’s Kevin Tree (Tottenham, Ont.).
Of the group, Tree had the best result at the mid-November CIS national meet in Guelph with a silver medal. Morgan is the only team member with previous FISU championships experience, a 43rd-place finish at the 2014 competition in Uganda.
Earlier this year, Tree and Cassidy competed at Pan American championships in Colombia and the world championships in China.
On the women’s side, the Canadian lineup headed to Cassino includes Calgary’s Emma Cook-Clarke (Calgary), Alberta’s Karissa LePage (Regina), Windsor’s Stefanie Smith (London, Ont.), Queen’s Claire Sumner (Calgary) and Dalhousie’s Colleen Wilson (Ancaster, Ont.).
Smith claimed CIS bronze last month in Guelph.
Canada hopes to build on a solid overall performance two years ago in Uganda, where the women captured team bronze to match the country’s best-ever result first established in 2010 on home soil in Kingston, Ont. For their part, the men placed sixth in the standings.
In individual competition, Julie-Anne Staehli from Queen’s University and Tristan Woodfine of the University of Guelph both crossed the line in seventh place.
With his result, Woodfine equalled the best finish in history by a Canadian male at the FISU championships (Rob Lonergan, 1982, Darmstadt, Germany). The top Canadian female performance remains a fifth position by Megan Brown of the University of Toronto in 2010 in Kingston.
In men’s team competition, Canada’s best result is fourth, also in 2010.
Uganda (women) and Kenya (men) are the reigning FISU team champions.
Name University Hometown Academics CIS Eligibility
Emma Cook-Clarke Calgary Calgary, Alta. Science 3
Karissa LePage Alberta Regina, Sask. Graduate Studies 5
Stefanie Smith Windsor London, Ont. Human Kinetics 3
Claire Sumner Queen’s Calgary, Alta. Chemistry 3
Colleen Wilson Dalhousie Ancaster, Ont. Oceanography 4
Ryan Cassidy Victoria Grande-Digue, N.B. Education 5
Olivier Collin Victoria Saint-Lazare, Que. Kinesiology 4
Matt McNeil Dalhousie Saint John, N.B. Engineering 5
Blair Morgan McMaster Yarker, Ont. Engineering 5
Forrest Simpson Victoria Nanaimo, B.C. Business 4
Kevin Tree Lakehead Tottenham, Ont. Kinesiology 4
* Year of CIS eligibility during 2015 cross country season
Head Coach & Team Leader: Kip Sigsworth (Lakehead University)
Assistant Coach: Brant Stachel (Queen’s University)
Assistant Coach: Paula Schnurr (McMaster University)