The most decorated program in Lethbridge College athletic history added to its collection on Saturday. The Kodiaks cross country team claimed two gold medals and added a bronze at a very successful 2018 ACAC Cross Country Championships hosted by Lakeland College in Vermilion.
Sophia Nowicki (second year, Nursing, Bragg Creek) won the individual women’s event and led her team to the overall ACAC women’s championship. The Kodiaks men’s team turned in its best performance of the season to earn bronze.
“Reclaiming the top ACAC women’s ranking ahead of Red Deer College was one of three goals that we prepared for and achieved today,” says Bertil Johansson, Kodiaks cross country coach. “The other two were for Sophia to win and for the men to earn bronze and qualify for nationals. We achieved all three with total team commitment and rehearsed tactical strategy. It was all meant to be and sometimes it just falls into place. Today was one of those times and I’m so proud of these student-athletes!”
Nowicki continued her historic sophomore campaign by winning the individual women’s gold medal. She completed the 6-km circuit in 23:53, a full 25 seconds ahead of SAIT’s Emily Mann, who claimed silver. Nowicki’s campaign has been one for the record books, as she went undefeated in five ACAC races this season and was named to the all-conference team.
The Kodiaks narrowly edged Red Deer College in a tie-breaker to win the ACAC banner. Led by Nowicki, the Kodiaks winning team also consisted of ACAC all-conference team member Emily Spencer (third year, Nursing, Calgary) who finished in seventh place in 25:32, Salma Moreira (10th place, 26:34) and Janelle Graham (12th place, 26:47).
With the conference champion decided by each school’s top four scoring runners, the race for gold was about as close as it could possibly get. The Kodiaks and Queens ended up tied at 30 points, but the Kodiaks won the tie-breaker thanks to Graham crossing the line inches ahead of the Queen’s fourth individual finisher.
The team title is the 60th ACAC championship in Kodiaks history.
The Kodiaks also received great performances from Rebecca Sweeney (21st place, 28:03), Brooklyn Vogel (23rd place, 28:12) and Vildana Rekic (28th place, 29:00).
Kodiaks men secure spot at nationals
Despite fielding a team of just five runners, the Kodiaks men’s squad also booked a spot at the CCAA national championships by winning the ACAC team bronze medal.
Newcomer Timothy Kimaiyo (first year, General Studies, Kenya) led the Kodiaks with an 8-km time of 28:15, good for sixth place overall. Kimaiyo was named to the ACAC all-conference team. Connor Jackson (first year, General Studies, Surrey, B.C.) was close behind, finishing eighth with a time of 29:17.
Kevin Kipchumba (first year, General Studies, Kenya) came in 21st with a time of 31:16 while team captain Daniel Robdrup (second year, Exercise Science, Lethbridge) rounded out the Kodiaks scoring, making a successful return from injury with a 22nd place finish.
SAIT ran away with the team title, on the strength of a 25:26 gold medal winning run from Matt Travaglini. Red Deer College earned the silver.
Johansson earns ACAC honour
At the ACAC championships, Kodiaks head coach Bertil Johansson was announced as a recipient of the Al Bohonus Recognition Award.
The awards are presented to outgoing ACAC Executive Committee members and sport convenors, as well as other individuals who make a significant contribution to the ACAC. Johansson, who is retiring following this season, is just the third coach to earn the award since 2010.
Next up: Nationals
Lethbridge will now prepare to head to Toronto for the 2018 CCAA Cross Country National Championships, hosted by Seneca College from Nov. 9-10.