Kodiaks XC eyes podium finishes

Kodiaks XC eyes podium finishes

Oct. 25, 2018 – The most decorated program in Lethbridge College athletic history will attempt to add to its collection on Saturday, as the Kodiaks take part in the 2018 ACAC cross country championships, hosted by Lakeland College in Vermilion. 

Both the Kodiaks women’s and men’s teams are medal contenders, while Kodiaks sophomore Sophia Nowicki comes in as the gold medal favourite in the 6-km women’s race. 

This will be the final ACAC championships appearance for long-time Kodiaks coach Bertil Johansson, who is retiring following this season.

“I am very excited and hopeful going into my 32nd and final growl for an ACAC banner as a Kodiak,” says Johansson.

Women’s 6-km race:

Noon Saturday at Lakeland College, Vermilion

The Kodiaks women come into the ACAC championships as the third-ranked team in the CCAA national rankings.

The team won three of its four ACAC Grand Prix events this season. In the only event they didn’t win, the team still tied for first with Red Deer College, but lost a tie-breaker to finish in second place. The squad features both impressive top-end talent, and depth to make it a challenger for gold this weekend.

“We certainly hope and believe that our women can wave off a recent surge from the Red Deer team,” says Johansson. “Most of the girls are currently healthy and motivated to regain solo position and bring home another banner, which would be their second in four years.” 

Sophomore sensation Sophia Nowicki (second year, Nursing, Bragg Creek) has been the runner to beat in the ACAC this season, earning first place in all four of her ACAC Grand Prix events. Emily Spencer (third year, Nursing, Calgary), who finished sixth at the last Grand Prix event, and Salma Moreira (third year, General Studies, Lethbridge), who placed eighth, also have medal aspirations. The Kodiaks depth has the potential to push them into first place in the team standings.

“Sophia is in great shape and is pumped to claim gold at the ACAC level,” says Johansson. “She and the girls have been training very hard these last two to three weeks, maximizing the balance between volume and intensity.”

Last season, the Kodiaks team finished third at the ACAC championships, while Nowicki won bronze at both the ACAC and CCAA championships.  

Men’s 8-km race:

1 p.m. Saturday at Lakeland College, Vermilion 

The Kodiaks men’s team has set up its season to peak for the ACAC championships, so the squad is expecting some of its best performances this weekend.

Ranked 13th in the CCAA national rankings, the Kodiaks are coming off a fourth place finish in the final ACAC Grand Prix of the season in Camrose. It’s a small team, with just five runners, but the Kodiaks hope they are ready to surprise the rest of the field.

“The tapering phase is now in play, and with the boys realizing a top three is possible, it will be a most exciting moment to watch,” says Johansson. “Captain Danny Robdrup is back in full stride this weekend after recovering from an injury, and all five men have seen improved running sessions these last two weeks. We’ve heightened attention to improved running performance both technically and especially mentally, so we are ready for a strong medal weekend leading into the CCAA championships in just over two weeks.”

Robdrup (second year, Exercise Science, Lethbridge) will provide a boost to a team that has been led by freshmen Timothy Kimaiyo (first year, General Studies, Kenya), who placed eighth in the final ACAC Grand Prix race of the season, and Connor Jackson (first year, General Studies, Surrey, B.C.), who was 11th.

The Kodiaks tied for third at last year’s ACAC championships, but dropped to fourth after losing a tie-breaker.  

The top three teams on each of the women’s and men’s sides, plus the top seven individual runners all qualify for the CCAA national championships.