MARKHAM, Ont. — Bring on the snow, the mud, the hills and the flats.
It’s cross-country running at its finest, and Matthew Travaglini is ready for anything.
The SAIT Trojans men’s cross-country runner will defend his Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national title Saturday afternoon amidst the wet and cool conditions at Seneca College’s King Campus just outside Toronto.
“It’s going to be slippery, but we were talking (Friday) about how we had snow in October in Alberta. Running in cold, wet, muddy conditions is not new to us,” said Travaglini, who won the CCAA individual gold medal last year in Montreal. “When we saw snow throughout the season, our coaches told us to embrace training in it because nationals is not going to be pretty … As a group, we’re pretty tough, so we’re going to be able to handle whatever Toronto can throw at us.”
Following the team’s practice run Friday, many of the runners decided to go shopping for longer spikes to put in their shoes. Travaglini, a former mountain running national champion, already had some packed away for just such an occasion.
He knows that because of the conditions, it won’t just be about the running.
“That’s the beauty of cross-country — it’s a grinder’s sport,” Travaglini said. “It’s physical toughness and mental toughness that wins races, and I like to think I’m pretty mentally strong.”
It’s not just himself that he is running for. At last year’s nationals, his placing helped the Trojans men’s team to its first-ever CCAA medal — a bronze.
This time around, he wants gold for both him and his teammates — Jacques Saayman, Daryl Ross, Brant Lauweryssen, Matthew Hebert and Jemmy Lee.
Saayman was the CCAA bronze medalist last year.
Because of their combined efforts, the men’s team goes into the event as the favourite, ranked No. 1 in the country by the CCAA. But Travaglini says living up to that ranking is what’s important.
On the women’s side, the Trojans team did not qualify as a whole. Instead, they have sent Emilie Mann and Ann Danard to compete individually.
Mann is coming off a silver-medal finish at the ACAC championships a few weeks back and placed ninth at this same event a year ago to earn a CCAA all-Canadian nod.
Danard finished ninth at the ACAC championships and will race in her first national championship event.
DINOS STAY ALIVE FOR SOCCER BRONZE
In an exciting second consolation semifinal, the Calgary Dinos pulled off an upset over the defending national champions, defeating the Montreal Carabins 2-1 in penalty kicks on Friday afternoon at the 2018 U Sports Women’s Soccer Championship.
Montreal defender Mélissa Proulx opened the scoring on her team’s first shot, sending home a strike in the 23rd minute.
After relentless pressure in Montreal’s end, the Dinos evened the score on a lofty strike by defender Amy Mikuska in the 76th minute.
Montreal’s first shot was turned away by Dinos star goalkeeper Lauren Houghton, which proved to be the difference-maker in the match. The Dinos scored on each of their kicks to seal the 2-1 win in a thrilling match at Gee-Gees Field.
“Obviously Montreal is a really good team, so we knew we had to be up for it,” said Dinos player-of-the-game Jordan Smith. “I think we pushed and got a lot of opportunities. We had an amazing penalty kick save that kept us in the game and then we just kept grinding it out.”
“It is tough to bounce back after the emotions of (Thursday) night (after a 2-1 loss to the host Ottawa Gee-Gees) and have a short turnaround,” added Dinos head coach Troye Flannery. “Montreal, the defending national champions, are an extremely good team, and we went toe-to-toe with them. I am proud of our team because this win makes the tournament relevant for us again. We get to play another game on Sunday.”
Up next, the Dinos will move on to the consolation final at the nationals Sunday, where they will take the RSEQ-finalist Laval Rouge et Or (8 a.m. MT).
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