Gryphons take two gold

Queen's men finish fourth, women get tenth in Quebec City

There weren’t any surprises at the national cross country championship in Quebec City last weekend — the Guelph Gryphons’ men’s and women’s teams took home gold medals for the sixth straight season.

On the men’s side, the Gryphons finished ahead of the Windsor Lancers and the University of Victoria Vikes on the podium. The Gaels finished fourth.

On the women’s side, the Vikes finished second, the McMaster Marauders finished third and the Gaels finished tenth.

The Gryphons, who won both medals by a wide margin, also swept the OUA Championship on Oct. 29.

“They’re five to seven years ahead of every other program in the country,” Queen’s head coach Steve Boyd said. “They just continue to steamroll everybody.”

Boyd said although half of Canada’s top runners go to U.S. colleges, the top remaining athletes go to Guelph.

“When we recruit, we have to convince [athletes] why they shouldn’t go to Guelph,” he said. “It’s a difficult argument to make.”

The Gryphons benefit from their connection with the Speed River Track Club. Boyd said the shared facilities allow Gryphons athletes to train with top-class runners throughout the year.

“They have everything from talented high school runners to former Olympians in that program,” he said. “When they all get together on a workout, it’s incredibly motivating for university athletes.”

Although the Gaels aren’t at the Gryphons’ level, Boyd said he was impressed with the men’s accomplishments this season.

“Our timing was perfect, we ran our best at [the OUA and CIS Championships],” he said. “The second-best program is Windsor and we closed the gap on them significantly.”

Jeff Archer led the Gaels with a 10th-place individual finish, while Maxime Leboeuf battled through illness to finish 17th. Nick McGraw, Oliver Hatheway, Clay Patterson, Jeff Costen and Dave Cashin finished in the top 97 on Saturday.

The men’s pre-season goal was to make the podium at nationals. Boyd said his team performed well enough to do it, but Vikes runners surprised everyone with an exceptional performance, earning bronze and relegating the Gaels to fourth.

The women’s 10th-place finish means they met their pre-season goal of finishing in the top ten during a rebuilding season. Captain Steph Hulse was the Gaels’ top runner, finishing 39th out of 134 runners. Boyd said he expects more out of third-year Hulse.

“She’s leading the team ... but I still think there’s more there for her,” he said. “She came in as a top-ranked high school athlete and I think she has the ability to run top 10 [at nationals next year].”

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