Cross country coach Steve Boyd thought the women’s season would be a rebuilding year. Then the Gaels posted a third-place finish at the Guelph Open last weekend.
Boyd said he expects similar results from the women at the OUA championships on Oct. 29.
“They have a better-than-outside shot of making the podium,” he said.
Captain Steph Hulse was the Gaels’ fastest runner, finishing the five-kilometre run in 18 minutes 24 seconds for 14th overall.
“Everyone is just improving every race,” she said.
Without top runner Maxime LeBoeuf, the men finished fifth in Guelph. Captain Oliver Hatheway said LeBoeuf chose not to run for personal reasons.
Boyd said although he thought the men’s team would place higher, he wasn’t disappointed. They finished behind the Gryphons, the Windsor Lancers, the Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Marauders.
Clay Patterson led the team with a time of 25 minutes 27 seconds, good for 26th overall.
The men ran an eight-kilometre course in Guelph. Hatheway said his team’s strengths are better suited to the 10-kilometre format of the provincial and national championships
Both teams must finish in the top five next weekend to qualify for the Nov. 12 nationals in Quebec City.
— With files from Gilbert Coyle