The UBC Okanagan Heat Cross Country running team travelled to Seattle, Washington this past weekend to compete in the University of Washington’s Sundodger Invitational.
It was the second consecutive year for the team travelled to Seattle in September and was once again the largest and most competitive race the program has ever attended.
Like last year’s race the Sundodger was dominated by BC universities with UBC and Simon Fraser finishing one two in the women’s team competition, and UBC Okanagan 15th. In the men’s team competition, the Thunderbirds from Vancouver were tops, and the Heat placed 21st.
Third year runner from West Kelowna Michelle Blackburne had the most noteworthy performance, running 23:29.29 for six km to finish 51st overall in a field of over 200 runners comprised of NCAA, NAIA and CIS runners to lead the women’s team.This was a near 25-second improvement for her over the same course last year.
Rookie Shayna Quibbel from Calgary, Alberta, was the second Heat runner (24:42.15) while captain Trisha-Lee Metro knocked nearly 45 seconds off her time from 2013, running 24:47.50.
Continuing the trend of bettering their time from 2013 Alea Stockton ran 20 seconds faster than her previous best on the course, newcomer Annelies Wentzel (Kelowna, BC) had an impressive debut in 25:23.91 and rounding out the top six was Julianna Neudorf in a time of 25:51.82.
This was the first race of the season as the women’s team looks to defend their 2013 CCAA National Championship title and although the team has lost their top runner from that championship squad in Sandra Kilmartin, coach Nikki Reiter is encouraged by the improvement of this year’s group compared to the same point in time from a year ago.
“These women know that they need to all improve upon their personal performances if they want to repeat a podium performance.”
On the men’s side, rookie Scott Lyons led all performances running 28:00.57 for the eight kilometer loop. Finishing close behind him were Cael Warner (28:08.26) and Joshua Tremblay (28:14.74). Other top finishers were Mackenzie Wong (28:28.49), Colin Wallace (28:29.53) and Erik Paulson (29:00.81). With only a one-minute spread amongst the men, coach Nathan Reiter remarks that “it’s encouraging to see improvement on team’s average time even with our top runners still finding their way into optimal shape”.
Next up for the Heat Cross Country team will be CCAA Preview meet hosted by SAIT in Calgary, AB. The race will take place on Saturday, October, 4th and will be on the same route as the 2014 National Championships a month later (Sat Nov 8).