Team captain Conlan Sprickerhoff of Williams Lake and his Thompson Rivers University WolfPack cross country running teammates were busy during the weekend.
Head coach Carmin Mazzotta took a group of 10 runners to the BC Cross Country Championships in Nanaimo on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“Athletes competed in combined fields with the top junior (18-19), senior (20+) and masters (40+) athletes in the province,” Mazzotta said. “There were multiple current and former Olympians in the fields.”
In the men’s race the top TRU finisher was Brennen Smith (Regina, Sask.) He was 54th overall in 27 minutes and 24 seconds — three tenths of a seconds faster than Sprickerhoff. Liam McGrath of Vernon was 72nd in a time of 28 minutes and 37 seconds.
“Brennen, Conlan and Liam all got in a bit over their heads in the early going,” Mazzotta said.
“Conlan was in spitting distance of a Rio Olympian two kilometres into an eight-kilometre race and I knew he’d put himself in a bit of a hole at that point. All three athletes went backwards over the middle part of the race but pulled it together with strong efforts over the last two kilometres.
“For Brennen and Conlan, they showed they can gut through adversity, which is something you need to be able to do to be a good cross country runner. Races don’t always go your way and sometimes you just need to bear down and gut through it.”
The top WolfPack athletes could be going to the U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sports) nationals Nov. 12 in Laval, Que. That will be determined next week.
“I was really proud of our teams,” Mazzotta said.
“We are still an emerging university squad and we’ve had some unfortunate things happen this year … we were by far the youngest university team out there with two 18 years olds, one athlete who just turned 19 and one athlete in his first-ever actual cross country race.”