The Canisius College cross country program will compete in the National Catholic Championship at the University of Notre Dame for the 33rd consecutive year on Friday.
Griffs come into the event following a three-week layoff after the men won their sixth straight Little Three Championship on Aug. 30.
The men will be stepping up to the 8k distance for the first time this season. In last year’s event, sophomores Cooper Roach and Michael Anvelt finished 13 seconds apart. Roach finished in 46th place with a time of 26:01. Anvelt, winner of the Little Three Championship, finished in 56th place. As a team, the Griffs placed eighth in 2012.
“I think that after their performances at the Little Three Championships that Cooper Roach and Mike Anvelt are really looking to have big races,” said head coach Nate Huckle. “They’re really excited about this race. They ran well there last year and they’re looking forward to get out there and prove how strong they are at the 8k distance.”
The women finished in 15th place in 2012, with each of the top eight finishers from last year’s race returning this year. Senior Mikelle Cala was the top finisher for the Griffs in 2012, finishing 45th. Jaime Wallace also finished in the top-100 finishing 93rd last year. Morgan Atkins, Mary Kate Chambers, and Robin Wagner, all of whom are competing this year as well rounded out the Griffs scoring.
“We’re really hoping Mikelle can go out and run somewhere around 18:30,” Huckle said. “That’d probably put her in the top-30. In addition Haley Keene and Macey Walker are looking to have big races for us. They both ran well at the Little Three Championships and the National Catholic should be a much faster course and I’m expecting both to run substantially faster.”
The women will be running a 5k for the second time this season after placing second at the Little Three Championship.
With 34 teams competing and nearly 500 runners between the two races, this will be one of the largest fields the Griffs will compete against this season, something Huckle thinks is an important test for his younger runners.
“The freshmen will have to focus on their race strategy and pacing in the first mile,” Huckle said. “Most of our freshmen raced at a high level in high school and are used to being in the top 10 even at the state championships, so it’s been a while since they’ve been in the position of 50th or 60th in a race and that’s where some of our freshmen will have to go out.”
The women will kick off the competition at 4:15, and the men’s race will begin at 5.