LONGUEUIL, QUE -The Heat Cross Country teams toed the line at the biggest CCAA (Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association) championships event in history with a field of over 290 student-athletes from nearly 40 different colleges and universities from across the country.
The race, five kilometres for the women and eight kilometres for the men, was held at Parc Michel-Chartrand in Longueuil, Que, and the cloudless sunny Saturday (Nov. 10) and was a perfect setting for the championships hosted by Champlain College Saint-Lambert.
The Heat women had a tremendous performance, and were just seconds away from a national medal, finishing fourth in the team scoring, narrowly missing the podium by the slimmest of margins – just five points.
Nikki Reiter, the head coach of the UBC Okanagan women’s team was extremely happy with the squad’s performance, but had to confess that it would have been really nice to medal with such an inexperienced group.
“This year the women’s team put UBC Okanagan on the map,” the elated Reiter remarked. “Although it stings to miss a medal by so little, the women’s team has made an incredible progression on their 13th place finish in 2011.”
The first Heat women runner to cross the finish line was a 2012 rookie from West Kelowna, Michelle Blackburne, who placed 16th overall in a time of 20:04. Other scorers for the Heat were Alea Stockton (20:36 – 34th), Trisha Metro (20:45 – 38th), and Kelsey Robson (20:56 – 45th).
The Heat men also competed amongst the best in the CCAA and finished a respectable 10th in the team scoring, a good showing in a very strong field. Mohawk College, the eighth place team, finished with an average time of 28:21, the Heat clocked in at 28:22, and the school that finished 14th was 28:32, an incredible seven schools within 11 seconds of one another.
“The guys showed spirit and heart, fighting for every position in the last few kilometers of the race,” a proud Reiter commented. This opportunity allowed our team to see how close the team scoring can be and sets the stage for where we want to be next year.”
Front runner Colin Wallace led the Heat finishing 23rd overall in a time of 27:07. Chemistry majors Jeff Kerkovius (28:33 – 55th) and Roger Sherwood (28:52 – 64th) moved through the race in the second half of the field. Rounding out the scoring was senior Garrett Anstett who ran 28:57, which was over a minute faster than his finish in the 2011 CCAA Championships.
Prior to the race, four UBC Okanagan Heat runners were recognized as CCAA All-Canadians. Michelle Blackburne (West Kelowna, BC) and team captain Shayla Millan (Nelson, BC) received the award for being the top two PACWEST finishers at the provincial championships. On the men’s side, Colin Wallace (Kelowna, BC) and Roger Sherwood (St. Catherines, ON) were given the honour.
In addition, women’s coach Nikki Reiter was recognized at the event, receiving the PACWEST nomination for CCAA Coach of the Year.