It may be difficult to imagine the Red Deer College Cross Country Running team improving on its incredible results the past few seasons, but Head Coach Kari Elliott is ready to inspire and lead this talented group to new heights this season.
“Our team motto this year is ‘REACH’ – to focus on setting goals just beyond our reach so that they are worth shooting for,” says Elliott. “So, that means to show a lot of heart, train hard, and come out ready to win.”
Even though the RDC Queens won Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) gold and the Kings captured bronze last year, Elliott likes the talent and potential of this season’s blend of returning and new runners.
“This year, we have many new faces but they are an exciting group of student-athletes,” says Elliott. “As a coach, I am thrilled to be working with these high calibre competitors and I’m very pleased to see the progress they have made, especially our third-years.”
Joining returning RDC Queens, Jill Stewart, Shaelyn Moltzahn and Teagan Shapka, are newcomers Shayla Sklaruk, Mackenzie Spinks, Caitlin Debree and Deshann Valentine.
Elliott sees the accomplished Queens, especially Stewart, holding significant roles throughout training and competition.
“Jill, Shaelyn, and Teagan are all returning and they have all been with our program for three years now, and each has improved significantly over the last few seasons,” says Elliott. “Jill is running strong and coming off a solid summer of training. She has already set a few personal bests in local road races and will be one of our leaders.”
After the graduated 2017 – 18 ACAC Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Year, Jordanna Cota, Stewart was often the Queens top performer. The Bachelor of Science student from Red Deer individually placed fifth and helped the RDC women earn gold at the ACAC Cross Country Running Championships, and was selected to the ACAC Women’s Cross Country Running All-Conference team.
This year, experienced Red Deer College Kings, Stephen Rowley and Lucas Wessner, will be joined by promising new student-athletes, Matt Hope, Daniel Szucs, Carson Schiller, Devin Saunders, Jakob Vollmerhaus and Cooper Cheshire.
“This Kings team is perhaps the strongest it has ever been since I’ve been coaching at RDC,” says Elliott. “Stephen Rowley has been training very hard this summer and is in excellent condition, and as competitive as ever.”
“We added some local high school talent – Daniel Szucs, who attended Lacombe Composite High School, has been racing well in the outdoor track season and had a top 10 finish at cross provincials in the fall,” says Elliott. “Also, there were a few pleasant surprises as walk-ons – Cooper Cheshire comes from a hockey background but has been developing nicely as a runner.
“Matt Hope is a fast addition to our crew – he has the ability to lead the conference and looks strong after some huge performances on the track this summer.”
The RDC Cross Country Running team is finishing preparations for the season in Banff with a combination of team building, training and friendly competition.
“At our annual Banff training camp, the goal is to build team chemistry and resiliency. The days will be packed with runs, strength training and team drills,” says Elliott. “We will finish the camp with our Sulphur Mountain Challenge – the fastest up the mountain will have their name added to our trophy.”
The Queens and Kings will continue the journey to extend their goals when they compete in Running Room Grand Prix #1 on Saturday, September 8 in Edmonton. Concordia University will host the first conference event of the young season.
For more information on RDC Cross Country Running, the student-athletes, and recaps, please visit: rdcathletics.ca