Lethbridge College Kodiaks cross country runner Sophia Nowicki capped a perfect season with her first ever Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national title on Saturday. Nowicki also helped the Kodiaks earn a team silver medal in the women’s competition at the championships hosted by Toronto’s Seneca College.
Nowicki (second year, Nursing, Bragg Creek, Alta.) crossed the finish line in 23:32, finishing the 6-km course four seconds ahead of silver medalist Simone Plourde of Collège André-Grasset. Nowicki had a perfect season, winning both the CCAA and Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) championships, along with all four of her ACAC Grand Prix events. She was named a CCAA All-Canadian.
Nowicki is the third Kodiaks runner to win a CCAA championship, joining Gladys Kochei (2008) and Mary Kamau (2002).
The Kodiaks women’s team earned a silver medal, finishing with 67 points. The Kodiaks were 22 points behind the gold medalists from Fanshawe College, and 14 points ahead of the bronze medalists from Red Deer College.
Scoring for the Kodiaks were Emily Spencer (third year, Nursing, Calgary) who finished in 13th place in 25:32, Salma Moreira (third year, General Studies, Lethbridge) who was 24th and Janelle Graham (third year, Criminal Justice – Policing, Olds) who finished 29th. It is the third CCAA medal for the Kodiaks in the past five years, and the team’s highest finish since 2009. The Kodiaks won the ACAC championship in October.
The Kodiaks men’s team finished in 15th place, one spot ahead of where it finished in 2017. Connor Jackson (first year, General Studies, Surrey, B.C.) was the top Kodiaks finisher in 27th place with a time of 30:02 on the 8-km course. Timothy Kimaiyo (first year, General Studies, Kenya) was close behind, finishing 20 seconds behind Jackson in 33rd place.
The races marked the end of the career of head coach Bertil Johansson, who now. Johansson is the most decorated cross country coach in ACAC history, as he coached his runners and teams to a combined 110 cross country and indoor track CCAA and ACAC medals.
“I felt there was a special feeling around this team and my final season of coaching,” says Johansson. “I told the team to believe in destiny and that it was our year to ‘show and run’ for Kodiaks Nation. It was amazing to how they bought into the theme and built their individual and team confidence over the last few weeks.”
Most of the Kodiaks team will re-convene for the ACAC indoor track season, beginning in January.