Trinity Western University’s cross country team – the Spartans – seem to get faster each year. When Coach Mark Bomba was asked about the current condition of the team, he replied, “Every year we get a bit stronger and this year is no exception. Unlike last year, where we had four of main scorers running Canada Gameswe had to finesse their training versus this year, where we had people running a normal outdoor season and then beginning to build up their mileage in August.”
The Spartans’ team is loaded with veterans and the expectations haved moved up with that experience. For example, Regan Yee and Fiona Benson have opened up with their best races versus last year where they were beginning form scratch in the Spartans’ training cycle. “Our highest scorer from last year, and first team All-Canadian Alison Jackson, had a great summer triathlon season and has looked like she’s in November-like form, without having done the specific preparation for CIS championships,” said Bomba.
Meanwhile Sarah Inglis has continued her trend back to being nationally competitive and has looked amazing in workouts according to Bomba. He added, “The key for us in addition to Inglis has been adding Hannah Geinsler (Ryan) and having our fifth runner from last year, Meg Harradine, being able to handle higher workloads than ever before. We are hoping those two pay big dividends come November.”
Asked about the men’s team that would otherwise look quite strong in Canada West as they are experiencing a few injuries, with Declan White and Levi Neufield out to start the season, he said, “They looked fantastic early on, but some foot issues have put them in alternative training mode for a little while. Of the guys who have been training consistently I have been ecstatic about their development,”
Former second team All-Canadian Blair Johnston is finally healthy after dealing with a mystery illness for over a year. The Spartans men’s team highest CIS scorer from the previous year is Joel Deschiffart, who has stepped up to another level in training. “With Deschiffart and returning Mihai Prajea, we can be a top-five contender at CIS Championships,” added Bomba.
Asked about specific goals he replied, “Team goals for the CIS cross season, men: top-5, while the women will seek top-3.”
“Our guys and girls team are very different. Our guys have more depth and parody, while our women’s team has larger gap in their scorers. On the men’s side we can lose a top-5 scorer and the drop isn’t substantial back to 7th or 8th. On the women’s side our top end is exceptionally good.”
Asked what the keys are to the Spartans’ continued growth coach Bomba said, “The key to our team is quite simple, they work their tails off. Our veterans teach our younger athletes about our system and how it works and that has been a gradual process over the last few years. This would be the first year I have had the confidence to push the envelope with their training and know that the current stable of athletes can handle the workload. I now trust them to know how to push their limits in the correct areas and that the younger athletes are being mentored by the older ones on how we do things.”
Spartans new depth:
Hannah Geinsler has arrived after a couple years in the US and has helped to add some depth on the women’s side.
Marita Deschiffert has been injured since her high school outdoor season last year, but she has been cross-training like a fiend.
In general, I focus on our first years running the Canadian club season first while trying to make provincial teams. The one first year who has moved into our ‘scoring team’ and has emerged as legitimate shot at this year’s Junior National team is Caleb DeJong from Manitoba. He was 30th at last year’s Canadian Juniors, but had a rough outdoor track season. He ran just over 26-minutes for 8K at our season opener in Seattle, but he did it in his heavy trainers (I figure that would be about 40-45 seconds faster for 8km so he is right where Blair Johnston was when he was 8th as a junior and Joel Deschiffart was at this time last year). Right now he has been mixing it up in practice with the guys who I would consider to be the core of this team and every week has been better and better.