Stakes are high for Mac cross country
As seen by many dominant sports franchises in the past, when the core talent of a team has left or is absent, a rebuilding phase usually occurs to foster the young talent and grow them to the same level of success.
Having lost many of the top runners from the 2012 CIS silver medal winning women’s cross country team, it would be easy to predict this team would follow suit and enter the rebuilding phase, however this is not the case according to head coach Rory Sneyd, who still has high expectations for his team this year.
“We have a group that we think can contend for medals at the provincial and national level. The women won't have as much of a target on their backs as in previous years and it is going to be exciting to see them hopefully surprise some people this year,” said Sneyd.
The women’s team has always been strong with significant depth. They have medalled at the CIS stage four years in a row, and now, their season allows for the rookies to step up and steer the ship that the veterans have left behind for them.
“It is pretty crazy to think that of the four graduating women from our top seven last year, three of them – Lindsay Carson, Victoria Coates, and Jillian Wyman - had all been All-Canadians in cross country and have won medals at CIS Championships in cross country or track. Our fourth graduating athlete, Steph MacNeill, is a three-time OUA All-Star in cross country” said Sneyd on the class of 2013.
Although the talented top seven of last season are missing four of their biggest threats, the rookies proved themselves at time trial two weeks ago, where four of the top five women crossing the line first were rookies.
For Coach Sneyd, the rookies’ success at the trial was no surprise to him.
“I feel that Kirstin (Myers), Phoebe (Cseresnyes), Emily (Nowak), and Adrienne (Morgan) can all end up in our top seven this year. What surprised me a bit was how fast they ran and how they stacked up with some of our veterans”
On the men’s side, there is a lot of excitement around the potential for a CIS medal this year. The men have not won a medal in over a decade, and this just might be their year to break that streak.
“We expect that Lionel Sanders, Connor Darlington and Taylor Reid will be up front and Taylor Forbes, Austen Forbes, Blair Morgan, Jordan Bierema and a couple of rookies will not be too far behind. It's great when the men can work together” said Sneyd
Because of the number of veterans on the men’s squad, however, it will be a lot more difficult for the recruits to make the top seven, although they are a very talented class.
“I knew that we had a tremendous recruiting class but guys like Paul Rochus and Jeramie Lai surprised me with how fast they ran. I think it speaks to the strength of our men's team that it will be really difficult for any of our rookies to crack the top seven this year,” Sneyd said.
The Marauders cross country team will compete at their first meet of the season September 21st, at the Western International. For this meet, and for the rest of the season, Coach Sneyd has listed some big players to watch out for, as they will be a force to be reckoned with.
“On the women's side, Maddy McDonald and Courtney Patterson will be leading the charge up front,” said Sneyd.
As for the rookies, Sneyd is excited to see what Phoebe Cserneyses can do, and the credentials to her name says it all.
“Cseresnyes has placed as high as fourth at the OFSAA Cross Country Championships and she has the potential to be one of the best rookies in the conference and in the country”
As for the men’s side, Sneyd has listed some big-time triathletes and a Canada cup 5000 m champion, that are potentially in the best shape of their lives right now
“Darlington, Sanders, and Reid are coming off phenomenal summers and they will be our low sticks,” said Sneyd.
The rookie that has stood out the most on the men’s side is Paul Rochus, who finished in 2nd place by no more than a couple seconds at the time trial on September 6th.
“Presently, I think Rochus has the best shot of any of the rookies to break into that top seven,” said Sneyd.
Although the team has changed a lot from the previous season, one thing is for sure. The expectations and stakes are just as high for the team this year as any other year, and the goal is still the same; to work hard, run fast, and to medal at the CIS Championships.