While the Huskies cross-country team’s season culminated at the Stewart Cup, many of the team’s fresh-faced members have their sights set on future seasons.
The Stewart Cup is the Huskies’ biggest race of the season, second only to the CIS championships. Since the Canada West finals are scored from the CIS championships’ results, the western teams often use the Stewart Cup as a finale to their competitive season.
“The Stewart Cup, we treat it like CanWest because almost all the CanWest teams are there anyways, apart from some of the teams from B.C.,” said Huskies top finisher Robert Bigsby. “So it’s a pretty good representation of the final CanWest rankings just because it’s so close to the end of the season that basically all the teams are there.”
While both Huskies teams had outstanding individual performances at this year’s Stewart Cup, the men’s team came fifth and the women’s placed sixth. For the men’s race, host team the University of Calgary Dinos took first while the University of Alberta Pandas won the women’s competition.
At the Oct. 25 race, Bigsby was the first runner from the Huskies to cross the finish line in the men’s 10 kilometre race. Recording a time of 33:30, Bigsby scored the Huskies 11 points with his ninth place finish out of university athletes.
“It was a tough course so the times were a bit slower than they have been at other races this year,” Bigsby said. “Overall it was a good race for me, for sure.”
Not long after, Taryn Heidecker and Hayden Hollowell followed in the 34th and 35th minutes, respectively. Showing a true pack form, Eric Mueller, Jaden Wood-Sparrow and Reid Balezantis all finished the race within 20 seconds of each other in the 36th minute.
The tough terrain at Canmore Park proved challenging for the Dogs, who took fifth place out of the other universities that day. Overall, the men’s top seven finishes recorded 139 points with a total time of 2:56:41.
Bigsby said that coaches had warned the team of the difference in altitude that there is between Saskatoon and Calgary — about 600 metres — and the effects it could have on race day. Though Bigsby said the team felt some effects of the altitude, he said they didn’t worry about it much as all the other visiting teams also had to cope.
The women’s team came up with 144 points and a combined time of 2:03:56. in their six kilometre run.
Rookie Anna Schneider finished in 24:14 to be the Dogs’ top female runner on the day, bringing in 23 points for the women’s team.
If the men’s team appeared pack-like, they were nothing when compared to the women’s team as all nine runners crossed the finish line within three minutes of each other. Tighter still, Brandey Blahut, Cara Wirachowsky and Shannon Del Bigio placed 42nd, 43rd and 44th, respectively.
Although Blahut didn’t attain her goal of placing ahead of a certain runner, she said that the women’s team had strong performances throughout.
“For me I felt the race went really well,” Blahut said. “The girls’ team overall, we had a very good race. I know a couple of the girls were a little disappointed with how they did but the coaches, overall, were very impressed with how we did and some of the girls even PB’d.”
With many members of the women’s and men’s teams only in their second year of eligibility, Blahut is confident that the Huskies have a couple of seasons left for the young team to make an appearance on the podium.
“We didn’t place very well as a team but also if you look at our team, most of us are quite young. It’s kind of building up until later years and hopefully we can improve as a team later on,” Blahut said.
The cross-country teams have their sights set on the CIS championship. The top runners will compete at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L. on Nov. 8.
Photo: Katherine Fedoroff/Photo Editor