By Nhial Tiitmamer
Big things do happen on a small campus, as was seen on the weekend of November 14, 2009. Organized by the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA), Augustana Campus was host to the Cross Country Running National Championship.
“Augustana is a small campus at which, we say, big things happen – whether in the classroom, in international and wilderness settings, the fine arts or intercollegiate athletics,” said Augustana Dean, Dr. Roger Epp, in his welcoming message.
Hosts for the CCAA Cross Country Running Championship is rotated between Eastern and Western Canada. This time, the chance came to the west through Augustana Campus.
“We are one of the strongest schools in cross country running in Canada. So it is good that we hosted it,” said Dr. Gerhard Lotz, Augustana Vikings Cross Country Running coach.
For Lotz, it means a lot to host such a big national event, “I think it is really good for our profile. [It] gave us national exposure.”
Augustana won the bid to host the championship because of its outstanding running courses in the country.
“Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta has one of the best country running courses in Canada, possibly the best,” said CCAA National Convener, Brian Stackhouse, whose office determines which school qualifies to host the championship.
With 108 participating institutions, the CCAA is comprised of five regional conferences which include Quebec Students’ Sport Federation (QSSF), Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association (ACAA), Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA), Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), and British Columbia Colleges Athletic Association (BCCAA).
The championship involved 110 runners in each race and about 40 coaches. The races were conducted in the beautiful Stoney Creek Centre near Augustana Campus. Residents of Camrose and Augustana Campus students and faculty turned up in “record numbers” to cheer the runners.
According to Lotz, the races were “marvelous.”He continues, “I love running and to watch this high quality of racing was just spectacular.”
Most Augustana Vikings runners were record breakers in their personal best.
“80% to 90% of our runners had their best time ever in the biggest races of the year,” Lotz said.
“One thing you learn about running is that a lot of times people have their best raises. Not necessary in the biggest races. If you do raise your best in the biggest race [like this], that is really exciting.”
The Augustana Vikings women’s team took the fourth position, almost getting the gold by a small margin while the men’s team came in fifth position overall in Canada. The men’s course was 8 kms while the women’s was 5 kms.
Katherine Stone, who was ninth overall in Canada, went 20 seconds faster than she had ever done before. Emily Cole and Patricia Leighton, who were the next best runners, ran about one minute faster than they had ever done before.
David Arial, who came in tenth place overall, ran for the first time under 27 minutes, something, according to Lotz, no Augustana runner had ever done before. Devin Woodland, a Vikings rookie with a great potential, was Augustana’s next best runner. Andrew Brisbin, the third best runner, had the best race of his life. He ran two minutes faster than before.
St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, will be the host of 2010 Cross Country Championship.