The University of Guelph's nine-year streak of team banner sweeps at the CIS cross country championships has come to an end after the Victoria Vikes were able to capture men's title on Saturday at the Arboretum. On the women's side however, the Gryphons won their 11th straight crown. The Gryphons, who were racing on their home course, boasted the male individual champion in Aaron Hendrikx, but finished second in the team results.
Meanwhile, it was the first time in program history that the Gryphons women were named champions on their own campus. "It was an unbelievable day exactly how we hoped it would go," said Victoria coach Brent Fougner. "We persevered through some injuries these last few weeks but the guys stepped up and we dominated the front of the pack which we needed to do. Cody and Ben also did exactly what they were supposed to do and moved up to be racing with everyone else's fourth runners."
The Men's race had a scary moment when 100 metres into the race a number of runners went down at the front of the pack causing a large gap between the front and back packs. Victoria got off to a fast start, forcing other teams to run well over the back half of the race. At the midway point, the title was very much up for grabs with Victoria, Guelph, Windsor and Laval all in the hunt. With roughly a mile to go, Guelph's Aaron Hendrikx took the lead and would not look back from there. Hendrikx, who was also the CIS individual champion at the 2013 CIS Cross Country Championships at Western, was able to build a definitive lead over the rest of the field over the last 400 metres. After the race, Hendrikx would admit "it was tough to fall short in the overall team title, but to finish my career as a Gryphon with an individual win on my home course is pretty special."
Despite the Gryphons streak of team titles coming to an end at nine, they have finished in the top two in each of the last 18 years.
Despite the Gryphons streak of team titles coming to an end at nine, they have finished in the top two in each of the last 18 years. The Vikes had five runners in the top 11 with Olivier Collin and Ryan Cassidy leading the way with 4th and 5th place finishes respectively to help them finish 13 points clear of the second place Gryphons. For Victoria, it marks their first Men's team title in Cross Country since 1997.
On the Women's side, Trinity Western's Sarah Inglis set a course record with a time of 19:49.9. Her performance was one of several impressive performances by Trinity Western athletes, as three Spartans finished in the Top 10 with Lisa Brooking 7th and Regan Yee finishing 10th. However, the Guelph Gryphons women once again showcased tremendous depth in their roster to take home the team title. Katrina Allison (6th), Katelyn Ayers (8th), Sophie Watts (15th), Sarah Wismer (17th) and Danielle Jossinet (20th) were enough for the Gryphons finish on top of the scoring race for the team title. Clutch performances from Wismer and Jossinet, both of whom were running in their first CIS Championships, were instrumental in the Gryphons edging Trinity Western in the team standings. After the race, Gryphons head coach Dave Scott-Thomas said, "I'm proud of both teams today and the support we received here on campus was terrific. I'm hoping we do not have to wait another 11 years to host this event, and we are already hungry to get back at it and working towards next year."
Trinity Western's Mark Bomba was named the CIS Coach of the Year for the Women's, while Victoria's Brent Fougner took home the honour on the Men's side.