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Thunder XC Running Program Has Historic Day at the ACAC XC Championships

Posted on: Nov 2, 2015

The Concordia Cross Country Running program had a historic day at the 2015 ACAC XC Championships in Lethbridge on Saturday.  Both the men's and women's teams picked up team silver medals which marks the first time the women have ever medaled – as a team – at the Championships. Out of the 7 women that started for the Thunder, 5 of them ran new personal bests for the 5 km distance and all 6 of the scoring team are now ranked as the 6 fastest women in Thunder history.  Team Captain Marriya Jenkins capped off a fantastic ACAC XC Running career picking up her 4th ACAC medal in 5 years with another Silver. "We've come full circle now with Marriya matching what she won in her first year with us," said Head Coach Matt Norminton.  "I couldn't be prouder. She's had a fantastic ACAC career and to help lead her team to their first ever team medal just makes it even more special."  Next across the line for the Thunder was 2nd year runner Rachael Smillie, who became the 2nd fastest Thunder female ever, finishing in 9th place.  Finishing in 12th place was rookie Elise Nawrocki, who is now the 3rd fastest Thunder female ever over the 5km XC distance and right behind her was another rookie, Bailey Troccoli-Hughes in 14th place – now the 5th fastest Thunder lady ever.  Second year runner Ana Zulic had the best race of her career as well, finishing in 16th place overall and a new personal best.  "Ana looked great out there today," said Assistant Coach Tom Fleming.  "She hung in there with Bailey and Elise the whole race. It was fun to see them come across the line one after the other!"  Another rookie, Baylee Frissell also ran a new personal best to cross the line in 29th place and put 7 Thunder women into the Top 30.  "I really thought we had won out there when we put 6 girls into the top 16," said Norminton.  "But I was wrong, as Lethbridge got us by 2 points in the end.  We'll get them in 2 weeks at Nationals!"
The XC men also had a big day, placing 4 men into the Top 10. Kirk Sundt led the way with a new school record, taking the individual ACAC Silver Medal.  "All of our top 4 guys improved from last year.  Five out of 6 of the guys ran new personal bests and Kenton ran his fastest time of the season," said Fleming. "I don't think they could have done much better out there today".  After Sundt, Kenton Sportak finished in 5th place overall and became the 2nd fastest Thunder man of all time. Sportak was followed by Co-captain Kevin Chambers in 9th place, who ran a new personal best.  The other Thunder Co-captain – Ben Thomas – closed like a madman in the final half km to run a big new personal best and crack the Top 10 for the first time in his ACAC XC Running career.  "Ben has taken over 10 minutes off his 8km time these 4 years here," said Norminton.  "Our guys ran better today than they did last year but unfortunately for us, the Lethbridge guys one-upped us and ran even better today."  In the end, the Thunder men lost to the Kodiaks despite scoring fewer points than 2014, when they won the title.  "Our hats go off to Lethbridge today. They stepped up and got the job done at home," said Fleming.  The Thunder rookies for the men were next across the line with Andrew Sanchez-Orosz running a new personal best over the 8km distance to finish in 27th place with Riley Bowker coming across the line in 31st place, also a new personal best time.  "I hope these two can look at what Ben has done over these past 4 years and aspire to be like him.  They're already ahead of where Ben was when he started and neither were feeling 100% heading into the race," said Norminton.  "They're the future of this program. I am looking forward to watching them improve over the next few years."
Next up for the Thunder will be the CCAA XC Running Championships. They will be held at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario on November 13th and 14th.

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Photo Courtesy of Jenn Norminton