EDMONTON – The 2017 U SPORTS Cross Country Championships are slated for this Sunday in Victoria, as the nation's top university distance runners compete at Beacon Hill Park.
The University of Victoria is hosting the event – which also doubles as the Canada West conference championships – for the first time since 2007, which was also the last time the event travelled to Western Canada.
Live Results & Tracking
In terms of Canada West contenders this weekend, the Trinity Western Spartans enter the competition looking to repeat as conference champs on both the men's and women's side. While TWU is hoping to repeat as CW champs, the Spartans also have their sights set on moving up the national ladder, after finishing second (men's) and third overall (women's) respectively last season in the U SPORTS team results. TWU sat inside the U SPORTS Top 10 all season, sitting fifth in both polls released back on October 31.
A pair of fifth-year athletes in Declan White (men’s) and Regan Yee (women’s) anchor the Spartans. White finished second overall last season at nationals in Quebec City, while Yee came in fifth at the event. Both enter the weekend after strong results at the BC Provincial Championships in late October, as White finished seventh, and Yee came in fifth.
In terms of Canada West challengers, TWU’s biggest competition in their pursuit of CW titles will likely come in the form of the host Vikes, who finished second (men’s) and third (women’s) in the CW team standings in 2016.
CLICK HERE FOR THE 2016 CW XC YEAR IN REVIEW
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE BEACON HILL COURSE
Both Victoria teams enter the race after sitting inside the U SPORTS Top 10 all season, with both peaking at No. 7 in the last polls of the season.
The host Vikes were the last team to capture national gold in 2015, when the men topped the standings, while the on the women’s side it’s been more than a decade since the last CW team earned gold. That came in 2003 when the Calgary Dinos were CIS’ cross country’s top women’s side.
Looking outside the conference, a couple of teams stand out in terms of competition, as the Laval Rouge et Or are the defending men’s champs, while the Guelph Gryphons enter the weekend riding an unprecedented 12-year streak as women’s national champions.
This year's race marks a new length for the women, who will be running two more kilometres than year's past. The women's four-lap race, which now stands at 8 km, gets started at 1 p.m. PST Sunday, before the men run five laps (10 km) beginning at 2 p.m. PST.
You can catch all the action by tuning into U SPORTS Live.
UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS & PANDAS
2016 CW finish: / (men's), 2nd (women's)
2016 U SPORTS finish: / (men's), 6th (women's)
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2004/ 12 (men's); 1997 / 2 (women's)
Last U SPORTS championship / total CW championships: 1980 / 1 (men's); highest finish in women's - 2nd in 1982 & 1998
Returning top finishers
Men: Kieran McDonald – 22nd U SPORTS
Women: Danae Keddie – 52nd U SPORTS
Number of competitors:
13 total (6 men, 7 women)
Key additions (name / eligibility / hometown)
Luke Hanson/ 1 / St. Albert, Alta.
Riley Stuermer/ 1 / St. Albert, Alta.
Paula Findlay/ 3 / Edmonton, Alta.
Ember Large/ 1 / Edmonton, Alta.
Jovana Tepavac/ 1 / Calgary, Alta.
Red Deer, Alta.
Looking to snap a 12-year Canada West title drought, the Golden Bears cross-country team will be leaning on fifth-year runner Kieran McDonald. McDonald is their top returning finisher from last year’s championship, placing 22nd in 2016 with a time of 31:36.9. The second-team Canada West All-Star has also been the leader early this season, placing third in the Sled Dog Open in Saskatoon (26:32), and second at the Stewart Cup in Edmonton (32:45.83).