The SAIT Trojans men’s and women’s cross-country (XC) running teams are just hours away from competing in the National Championship.
For the first time ever SAIT runners will have the luxury of racing at their home turf.
SAIT Polytechnic is hosting the 2014 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Cross-Country Running Championship today and Saturday, Nov. 7 and 8.
Hundreds of athletes throughout Canada were coming to the city, to represent their colleges and universities at this event.
“It’s definitely an advantage to have it at our home course because we train on it almost every day,” said Trojans runner Sara Hewitt, on the eve of the meet.
Hewitt has excelled in the competitions leading up-to the National Championship, racing to first place in two grand prix events.
“I feel strong this year”, said Hewitt.
“I had a great summer that was full of activity.”
The men are slated to race on an 8km course in Confederation Park, in northwest Calgary, while the women compete on a 5km off road track.
The Trojans’ men’s squad has a lot of new faces and consists of mostly first year students.
“All the coaches, including myself, really like the men’s team, in the sense that they’re jelling at the right time,” said Trojans assistant coach Deonn Flynn.
“In regards to their work ethic, they really do put their best foot forward when it comes to working out.”
The Trojans have competed in four grand prix races this fall in preparation for the Nationals.
Both teams finished second in Red Deer and Sundre, as well as third in Calgary.
Most of the SAIT’s runners sat out during the final grand prix in order to rest for the upcoming Nationals.
Flynn spoke about the importance of focusing on the process and not the outcome.
“It doesn’t make a difference if it’s for provincials, nationals, or just a local race. You always focus on the process and the results will just come,” said Flynn.
When asked about her competition, Hewitt talked about two opponents from last year’s Nationals: Marriya Jenkins, who captured the bronze, and Jamie Wigmore, who took home a fifth-place finish.
“They’re super strong, so I’m excited to face them again in the nationals and see if I’ve improved at all,” she said.
One might consider Hewitt a ‘Jill-of-all-trades.’ The second year Diagnostic Medical Sonography student is a former competitive cross-country skier.
“You can tell that she’s a cross-country skier because when she goes uphill, she just powers up the hill” said Flynn.
“Her shoulders are square and she has lots of energy.”
Hewitt’s cross-country versatility is likely to give her a leg up on opponents in battling what could be potentially cold weather come Nationals.
“I’m used to the snow and the cold, so I think that I’ll perform a bit better in those conditions”, said Hewitt.
It’s definitely an advantage to have it at our home course because we train on it almost every day. – Sara Hewitt.
“You’ve got to be able to change gears really quickly and your brain is always focused on how to either keep ahead or catch up,” said Flynn, speaking in regards to cross-country runners’ much-needed mental toughness.
“My first conversation with this group was you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable for a long period of time.”
The Trojans’ full XC roster can be found at SAIT’s cross-country website.