While one Trinity Western Spartans cross-country team look for its fourth straight Canada West championship, another begins the season in search of their first conference crown.
Those are the goals of the women’s and men’s cross-country teams, respectively, as the Canada West season kicks off this weekend.
Both teams begin their season on Sept. 17 at the University of Washington’s Sundodger Invitational in Seattle.
The women’s team looks to continue its run of success of three straight banners as well as having four straight individual title winners.
And the bulk of last year’s squad — minus the graduation of CIS champion Sarah Inglis — is back for another run in 2016.
Expected to lead the way are the trio of Regan Yee, Lisa Brooking and Mirelle Martens, all three of whom were CIS all-Canadians in 2015. Each also finished in the top 11 in the country.
Meg Harradine, Hannah Ryan and Joanna Williams add depth for the program.
“We’ll be solid across the board,” said Mark Bomba, the TWU endurance director.
“I think our three leading girls will really help compensate for the loss of Sarah (and) without a doubt, the girls who were our fifth, sixth and seventh runners last year are way better and have progressed tremendously.
“I think we’ll be competitive and should be able to make a run at a podium finish at nationals.”
For the men’s side, the team returns all but one runner, the now-graduated Blair Johnston, as the burgeoning group of third and fourth-year runners looks to take the next step forward.
“We lose Blair on the guys’ side, but most of our team will be much-improved this year,” Bomba said.
“I think last year was a disappointment for many of the guys at nationals and they definitely want to turn that around.
“The men’s team is deep for us and I think we have a shot at a top three finish at nationals. Can we stay healthy? That’ll dictate a lot for us, but if we do, I think we can make a run at a Canada West championship.”
Declan White and Joel De Schiffart, who were 16th and 18th, respectively at last year’s CIS championships, should contend for top 10 spots in 2016.
After TWU’s leading pair, Caleb De Jong and Nick Colyn (are expected to take big strides forward this fall, while Levi Neufeld will once again be a major contributor and Deon Clifford, when in form, can be amongst TWU’s best. Then there’s the local quartet of fourth-year Adam Marshall and third-year athletes Tyler DeJong, James Lam and Jordan Gin who are all aiming to become key pieces in TWU’s aspirations at the national championships.