Cougars cross-country Canada West rankings
Despite their fairly short season, this varsity team hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since
The University of Regina’s cross-country team competed at the Canada West Championships in Abbotsford, B.C. on October 29. The Cougars had a very successful meet, with three Cougar athletes finishing within the top 12. Brayden Mytopher finished eleventh in the men’s course, which earned him a spot as a Canada West second team all-star. Jonathan Podbielski finished seventh in the men’s course which earned him not only Canada West first team all-star recognition, but also the Canada West Rookie of the Year title.
On the women’s side, Kaila Neigum finished the race in ninth place and received Canada West second team all-star honours. Neigum started training with the Cougars when she was in grade 11. When asked why she joined the Cougars, she explained that she loved the team and coach, though it was definitely the team that made her want to stay. Neigum became interested in running after a physical education intern introduced her to cross-country. She decided to drop out of volleyball in order to pursue running and, with the help of the intern, Neigum was able to go from twelfth in provincials to getting second in just the span of a year. She attests that having the intern as her coach helped to kickstart her love for the sport.
The cross-country season for the Cougars is relatively short, as the competition normally goes until late October or early November depending on whether the team makes nationals. The snow and ice make things tricky when running outside, so the team will normally transition inside when it becomes super cold outside.
Neigum sees her cross-country and track seasons as three separate seasons throughout the year. When in cross-country season, Neigum focuses on slow reps but high mileage, and then transitions to more speed-intensive workouts going into track season. Neigum sees the cross-country season as being beneficial going into the track season, saying that “You just feel like you’re more aerobically in shape when you switch to indoor track which I think makes me faster,” and “workouts are a little more easier.”
Niegum says that her “Favourite event would be the 1500. Just long enough, but not too long.” When asked about her most recent race in Abbotsford, Niegum said that the race “was by far the fastest I’ve ever run a race. A pretty fast course as it wasn’t too hilly, which makes faster times. I’ve gone to only two cross-country races since before COVID. So, I think I could have ran a little bit faster.” In transitioning into the indoor track season, Neigum’s goals consist of trying to increase her mileage while managing an ongoing Achilles issue, all while getting in quality workouts. Neigum also says that she would really like to auto-qualify for nationals, since it’s something she hasn’t been able to do throughout her U Sports career.
If Neigum continues to race like she has been racing, then she will have no problem having a successful track season with hopes to obtain an auto-qualification for nationals. This year, the Canada West 2023 Track and Field Championships and the U Sports 2023 Track and Field Championships will be hosted in Saskatoon. Hopefully Neigum and the other Cougars with her have a successful Canada West Championship and U Sports Championship in their home province.