WolfPack cross country to send contingent to U SPORTS Nationals

  Posted on: November 7, 2018

Kendra Murray in the pack at the UVIC Invitational (AP Shutter photo)

The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack will again be represented at the U SPORTS cross country nationals.

Head coach Carmin Mazzotta and assistant coach Kaileen McCulloch will be accompanying four athletes to the championships, which take place Saturday (Nov 10) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

The Pack will have two male runners; Calum Carrigan (1st year, Kamloops, BC) and Troy Morgan (2nd year, Hythe, Alberta) competing in the 10 kilometer men’s race. The Whitehorse, Yukon duo of Kendra Murray and Zoe Painter (both 2nd year) will run in the 8 kilometer women’s race.

Morgan, Murray and Painter competed at the 2017 U SPORTS Nationals, which were held in Victoria, BC). Morgan was 125th, Murray was118th. Painter finished 148 th.

Comments of head coach Carmin Mazzotta:

1. How did you determine who is going to Nationals? We look at performance throughout the season, but especially at the bigger races we compete at in October. Attitude and commitment also play a role in our decision-making. Ultimately, as it is a self-selection process, we only bring athletes who are ready to compete at the highly competitive level one would expect from a National university championship.

2. What are your expectations of the four? The main thing is for each athlete to go out there with strength and confidence, and put themselves in a position that allows them the opportunity to see what their potential is on the day. This means staying focused and sticking to the race plan even in the difficult moments where the body is not entirely cooperating. I think we’ve done a great taper this year, and our student-athletes should be feeling fresh and full of energy once they get going out there.

As far as placing, I think each one of them has a shot at top 100 — this year I’d be elated with anyone that hits that mark.

3. How much is their trip to Nationals a chance for your crew to get experience over trying to make a great showing in this race? With our team in a rebuild this year, getting experience in high-level competitions is crucial to the future success of our program. Calum Carrigan is still 17 years old, and Troy Morgan just turned 19. Kendra Murray and Zoe Painter are a bit more experienced, but this is still only their second Nationals. Each athlete will learn something about how to prepare, stay focused, and how to execute in this kind of environment. Those are things they can bring back to the other athletes. It only makes our program stronger.

4. How do you think the four will handle the pressure of racing with the country’s best?Some athletes really struggle with the pressure of big competitions. Each of these four will have nerves and a bit of pre-race anxiety, but they are all so mentally tough and know how to deliver their best in situations like this. I have full confidence that each of them will run smart races and execute their best race possible.

5. Anything else you want to add? I’m really proud of our whole team this season. We graduated so many athletes last year and have been a smaller squad than we’ve been in the past. I was off for a large portion of the season following a major surgery and some great folks from the local running community stepped in to help. A big thank you to Nathan Champness, Ryan Pidhirniak, Marcus Allen, Ian McKinley, and of course Kaileen McCulloch! Despite the challenges, the commitment level has never been higher. These student-athletes showed up with a sense of purpose for every workout, and gave an honest and sincere effort every time we asked it of them.