EDMONTON – Women's cross-country student-athlete Kiana Row is the MacEwan Athletics' first star of the week after winning the ACAC Running Room Grand Prix on Saturday in Edmonton.
In an impressive university debut, she beat all other women's student-athletes competing at the opening event of the season.
Other athletes recognized this week include second star Kristyn Smart of the women's soccer team and third star Michael Ho of the men's soccer team. All three are being honoured for the first time this season.
1st STAR: Kiana Row, women's cross-country
Beaumont, AB, first-year, Nursing
With the first race of her university career, Kiana Row not only set the pace for the MacEwan Griffins women's cross-country team, she beat every female student-athlete in the field.
Rattling off a 23:11 6K in Saturday's ACAC Running Room Grand Prix #1 at Edmonton's Gold Bar Park, Row even topped reigning CCAA national champion Sophia Nowicki of Lethbridge.
Row led the Griffins to an "unofficial" team title at the event (unofficial because MacEwan isn't an ACAC team in cross-country) and set the pace for a strong group of teammates, which includes reigning ACAC indoor track runner of the year Ember Large and 2018 Canada West second team all-star Emma Steele.
Row will look to continue her strong pace as the team builds towards the Canada West championship on Oct. 26 in Calgary.
2nd STAR: Kristyn Smart, M, women's soccer
Edmonton, AB, fourth-year, Science
Returning to the Griffins in top form after being fully recovered from two ACL tears that have cost her two university seasons, veteran holding midfielder Kristyn Smart was on point in the Griffins' home-opening weekend.
The team's captain not only controlled the game with a dominant performance in a defensive midfield role, she also scored a goal in MacEwan's 2-0 win over Mount Royal University on Saturday. She ripped a laser from 35-yard out to give the Griffins an insurance marker in a contest they dominated.
In Sunday's scoreless draw with Lethbridge, Smart was a big reason why the Pronghorns never had a serious chance as they registered zero shots on goal.
Smart and the Griffins (1-0-1) take to the road this weekend, visiting Thompson Rivers University (0-1-1) on Friday (6:30 p.m. MT) and UBC-Okanagan (0-2-0) on Saturday (6:30 p.m. MT, both games on Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
Kristyn Smart keeps a Mount Royal University player in check during Saturday's 2-0 Griffins' win, in which she scored a goal (Chris Piggott photo).
3rd STAR: Michael Ho, D, men's soccer
Edmonton, AB, third-year, Arts
Showing an unmatched work rate and elite field presence, Michael Ho was a thorn in the side of MacEwan's opponents on their home-opening weekend.
The 5-foot-5 defender was a major reason the Griffins notched their first win of the campaign on Saturday – a 2-1 win over the University of Calgary Dinos. He consistently read the play quicker than his opponents and refused to allow their attempts at quick counters through midfield.
In Sunday's 2-1 loss to Mount Royal University, Ho was again a major factor on the defensive end and was relied on heavily when a red card to teammate Zibusiso Moyo put the Griffins down a man for the final 56 minutes.
Ho and the Griffins (1-2-1) head out on the road this weekend, visiting UBC Okanagan (4-1-1) on Friday (8:30 p.m. MT) and Thompson Rivers University (1-1-2) on Saturday (8:30 p.m. MT, both games on Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
Michael Ho heads away a ball during rainy Sunday action against Mount Royal University at Clarke Stadium (Chris Piggott photo).