GPRC Hosts Cross-Country Nationals
Wednesday, November 6th, 2019
GPRC is hosting the 2019 CCAA Cross-Country Running National Championships Nov. 8-9.
Collegiate cross-country runners from across Canada are about to converge in Grande Prairie Friday and Saturday.
Grande Prairie Regional College is hosting the 2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Cross-Country Running National Championships Nov. 8-9.
The Wolves have six men and six women runners competing and as many as 225 runners will participate in the event. GPRC’s Brittany Duvall is racing for a fourth consecutive Nationals.
The 6 km Women’s event starts at noon Nov. 9 in Muskoseepi Park, followed by the 8 km Men’s competition at 1 p.m. A community run (5 km for women, 10 km for men) kicks off at 9 a.m.
The men’s and women’s Wolves teams are both ranked in the top 15 in Canada and this is the Women’s 18th straight appearance – a record. GPRC is also the first college to host the event twice – it was also held here in 2007.
“The event has really developed since then,” says Wolves Cross Country Running Coach Bill Corcoran, who is retiring following the event after 29 years at GPRC. Co-coach Rick Scott is also retiring from coaching. He’s been with the team for 28 years.
“Back then we had maybe a dozen schools, mainly from Ontario and Alberta, and now it includes Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. Now we are looking at up to 18 teams. It has really grown which is really good,” says Corcoran, who’s looking to see both Wolves teams finish in the top 10.
“Muskoseepi Park is a community gem,” he says. “It’s a signature spot in Grande Prairie. We’re running in the shadow of the College which helps to highlight the event.”
Qualifying For Nationals
Men’s and Women’s teams each have six members with runners qualifying provincially. In addition if a college’s team doesn’t qualify and an individual runner is in the top 25 in their provincials, they can compete independently. The GPRC team qualifies automatically as hosts.
“It’s an honour to host a National Championship in Grande Prairie,” says GPRC Athletic Manager Thomas Slifka. “The cross country running community is very supportive and we’re excited to host it for a second time. Muskoseepi Park is a beautiful setting for the event.
“Bill and Rick have coached at GPRC for nearly 30 years and the success that our running program has continually had is a testament to the leadership of our coaches. We are sad they are leaving but we are grateful for the incalculable impact they’ve left on our program.”
Awards Banquet Speakers
“One of the really special things about this event is, instead of one guest speaker, we have a trio of GPRC alumni who have won in the Nationals,” says Corcoran. It is really cool that we can get some of those good athletes from yester-year to speak to the crowd.”
They are Kyle Reynolds (2004), Fiona Benson (2010) and Mirelle Martens (2014). Medalists, CCAA All-Canadians and the Coach of the Year will be recognized during the banquet.
Preparing For The Event
Corcoran served as national CCAA National Cross Country Convener from 2013 to 2018. By being involved at the national level, he saw how the different hosts presented the Nationals.
“It was a really good opportunity to be able to take some of that experience and knowledge from hosting in 2007, and from being the national convener for six years to create a really great event for both the college community and the athletes this year,” he says.