MARKHAM, ONT., (Nov. 10, 2018) — Matthew Travaglini is, once again, the best in Canada.
The SAIT Trojans cross-country runner ran his way to his second consecutive Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Cross-Country Running National title on Saturday at Seneca College's King Campus just outside Toronto.
"That sounds pretty damn good," said Travaglini after being asked how the title of two-time national champion sounds. "That was the goal this season. I knew there was going to be a bull's-eye on my back, and today I made sure my back was all anyone saw."
The fourth-year Geomatics Engineering Technology student from London, Ont., simply destroyed the field, recording a time of 26:19 in the 8-kilometre race.
That time was a full 63 better than the second-place finisher – Leonard Chesoo from the Concordia University of Edmonton, and 102 seconds better than third-place finisher Matthew Hope of Red Deer College.
"I was smiling for the last 800-metres," he said of his finish. "It's been a lot of hard work and hard miles put in this season."
Saturday's run was a bit of a challenge for both men's and women's runners. Wind and slippery conditions led to a few falls. Right as the men's race was about to begin, hail started to fall.
"In all seriousness, that sudden burst of hail helped me. It was like, 'OK, it's go time," Travaglini said. "And luckily, with how I positioned myself right away, I had a clear view of everything in front of me and could navigate the puddles, the roots and the rocks."
Travaglini's performance last season helped his Trojans men's team to their first-ever CCAA medal – a bronze. This time around, they combined efforts to finish one place better and grab the silver medal.
As a whole, SAIT finished 12 points back of first place St. Clair College, who had four runners finish inside the Top 15.
"Second place is absolutely stellar," said Trojans co-head coach, Ryan Edgar. "It was close between first and second. . . The guys did awesome in very tough conditions. We're very proud."
Helping Travaglini earn team silver was the trio of Jacques Saayman (3rd year, Fort McMurray, Alta., Bachelor of Business Administration), who placed eighth in a time of 28.33; Daryl Ross (3rd year, Calgary, Business Administration) placed 26th in a time of 29:39; and Brant Lauweryssen (2nd year, Calgary, Business Administration) placed 36th in a time of 30:06.
Matthew Hebert (2nd year, Calgary, Information Technology) placed 70th in a time of 31:20, while Jemmy Lee (2nd year, Calgary, Electronics Engineering Technology) crossed the tape in 89th position (32:26).
On the women's side, Emilie Mann (2nd year, Fernie, BC, Respiratory Therapy) improved on her ninth-place finish from nationals a year ago to take fifth this time around. She completed the 6km loop in a time of 24:01.
"My goal was top 5, and top 5 it is," said Mann, smiling as usual. "I was nervous about the footing and the possibility of losing a shoe out there, but it was fine. All year, we've dealt with snow, rain, mud. . . I was ready for whatever conditions there was going to be."
Edgar praised Mann's start to the race, saying him and co-head coach Bre MacEachern loved her aggressiveness.
"She fought through a lot today, and we were extremely happy to see her leading at one point and pushing hard," he said.
Teammate Ann Danard (2nd year, Thunder Bay, Ont. Civil Engineering Technology) nicked herself with one of her spikes before the race, and dealt with blood running down her thigh for the entire race, but toughed it out and finished in 29th spot in a time of 25:54.
Both Mann and Danard ran as individuals, as the Trojans women's team failed to qualify for nationals after just narrowly missing out on the podium at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Championships at the end of October.
Because of their Top 10 finishes, Travaglini, Saayman and Mann will each earn CCAA All-Canadian nods.