The University of Manitoba Bisons cross country team held its annual time trials on Sept. 16 at Churchill Drive Park.
Twenty-eight athletes — 12 female and 16 male — participated in the first race of the cross country season, which is used to judge how Bison athletes are shaping up against each other heading into Canada West competition.
Bisons cross country head coach Claude Berube explained the importance of the time trials relative to the Bisons’ schedule.
“It’s basically the start of the season, and it gives the athletes an idea of where they are on the team,” Berube said.
“We’ll find out who’s fit, and who has still got some work to do, but it has an impact on our initial travel and it just gives them a baseline of where they’re at from the start of the season.”
After not being able to participate in U-Sports for over a year, Berube is excited to start competing against other universities.
“This is really exciting to be able to do this and know that next weekend we will be going to [Saskatoon, Sask.],” Berube said.
“We go to Saskatoon next weekend with the group then with a small group to [Camrose, Alta.] the weekend after. Then we’ve got two meets here in Winnipeg on the 16 and the 23 of October. Then Canada West, and then [the U-Sports national championship] for those who go on to that.”
In the 4.2 kilometre women’s race, Hailee Morisseau finished first with a time of 15:53. Lindsay Greasley finished in second place with a time of 16:21 and Angela Kroeker finished third with a time of 16:57.
Finishing first in the men’s 6.3 kilometre race was alumnus Daniel Heschuk who ran a 19:34. Trailing right behind him was fellow alumnus Simon Berube finishing with 19:37.
Michael Wood was the first current male Bison athlete to finish, finishing in third with a time of 20:20. Four seconds behind Wood was third-year Bison Calvin Reimer.
For cross country team member Annika Niblock, the time trials are a great indicator of how she feels she needs to improve as a runner.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do, that’s for sure,” Niblock said. “It’s a really fast field, all the ladies are really strong.”
“This early on in a season, normally when I go into a race I just like to judge my performance off my old times and almost just race myself rather than getting caught up in how others are doing […] The time trials are always such a great opportunity to do that, so I’m motivated more than ever to get stronger for the next races.”
Last year, the cross country season was cancelled due to the pandemic. This forced Niblock to wait a whole year before she would be able to run competitively for the Bisons. With support from her teammates, she’s more motivated than ever to get back to racing.
“It’s definitely nice to get back,” Niblock said.
“Everyone on the team is so inviting and it’s [a] really nice community to be a part of so I felt really welcomed […] This year will be quite a different year, that’s for sure.”
The Bisons cross country team heads out to Saskatoon, Sask. for its first meet Sept. 25.