The UBCO Heat will be competing in the first standalone Canada West Cross Country Championships since 1993, to be hosted by the Calgary Dinos. On the women's draw, eight teams will be competing. The men will also have eight teams racing, but with a few different schools competing in each gender.
Action starts at 10:30 a.m. PT with the women's 8000-metre race followed by the men's 10,000-metre competition at 11:30 a.m. PT.
The university championship races take the stage in Canmore Park, as a two-kilometre loop has been set ahead of the showdown. The women will complete the loop four times and the men five.
Although the Heat women's team is accustomed to an eight-kilometre race, the men will be forced to push themselves as they take the step from 8 km to 10 km for the championship.
The 2019 season is only the second year that UBCO has competed in Canada West play, and will be the first time the Heat have set a full team to a Canada West or U SPORTS Championships.
UBCO Men Heading to Calgary:
Mike Mitchell / 5th / Kimberly, BC
Owen Harris / 3rd / Kelowna, BC
Dayton Bath / 2nd / West Kelowna, BC
Turner Woodroff / 2nd / Kelowna, BC
Alex Santos / 2nd / Ottawa, ON
Austin White / 2nd / Oyama, BC
Connor Baerg / 1st / Burlington, ON
The men are sending a total of seven runners for the championship highlighted by Mike Mitchell. The fifth-year runner from Kimberley has a trio of individual wins to his name, one in each of the last three seasons.
In 2018, the Heat sent three runners to the U SPORTS national championship with UBCO's top finisher being Mitchell, who fell in the large pack early in the race, in 85th.
Owen Harris and Tanner Woodroff, both locals, also got their feet wet in championship racing last season. Along with Mitchell, Harris and Woodroff also competed in the national championship, placing 136th and 126th respectfully.
Head coach, John Machuga is pushing the team to be able to pull on the experience they got last season and help push the team towards a championship.
"The team is hoping to leverage the experience that Harris and Woodroff got competing at U SPORTS Nationals last year. They have been practicing racing with as small a gap as possible between our two through six runners."
The men have completed two races so far this season, one in Saskatoon and one at home. In Victoria Park, Saskatoon, the Heat took on four Canada West squads and nearly captured a podium placing, coming in the four spot.
In the eight-kilometre race, Mitchell finished an individual fifth place, the highest on the team.
At home, the Heat hosted TRU in a head-to-head matchup. Their top four finished place two-through-five in the race, led by Owen Harris' second place, to defeat the WolfPack in team scoring.
UBCO women on the championship roster:
The women's team has more youth than then men's team with none of their members having competed at a Canada West or U SPORTS Championship. Although fourth-year runner from the Yukon, Camille Galloway, does have CCAA national championship experience, as a member of the 2016 national champion UBCO squad.
Only Nicole Chamberlain competed for the Heat last year, racing three times during the season.
With three rookies on the squad, head coach John Machuga says that although the team has little experience together, they have been working hard on using each other effectively.
"They have been practicing finding each other in races," Machuga explains, "and they are working together since they don't have many other reference points."
The Heat have competed in two races this season. First in Saskatoon against Alberta Pandas and Saskatchewan Huskies, and then at home in a head-to-head matchup with TRU.
On the road, the Heat placed third, as Camille Galloway captured UBCO's first-ever individual race win in Canada West.
In their matchup with the WolfPack, the Heat were able to take down the Kamloops squad. Led once again by Galloway, who led start to finish, the Heat took five of the top six spots in the win.