Cross country sets bar high at Western

Men’s team places first among Canadian schools

Braden Novakowski finished third in the 10-kilometre race Saturday.
Image supplied by: Supplied
Braden Novakowski finished third in the 10-kilometre race Saturday.

The Queen’s cross country team had no shortage of success this past weekend at their first meet of the season, the University of Western Ontario Invitational.

In the men’s 10-kilometre race, Braden Novakowski finished third overall while Robert Kitz finished 10th. The two runners were the first two from Canadian schools to cross the finish line. Matt Hulse followed by finishing 19th in his first 10-kilometre race for Queen’s.

As a team, the men finished third overall out of 17 entries, and first among Canadian schools.

On the women’s side, Leslie Sexton finished second place with a stellar 18:15 run in the five-kilometre race. Rookie Natalie Tatlow finished ninth and team captain Liz Miller finished 28th.

The women’s team finished fourth.

Coach Shane Lakins said he’s proud of the team’s performance.

“That’s a great start for us on the guys’ side,” he said. “We know we’ve got a good team, and it’s nice to get off to a good start.”

Novakowski said the team surprised themselves with their success.

“We knew we had strong teams on both sides, but we didn’t realize that we were at the forefront of the OUA,” he said.

Lakins said Novakowski did a good job of keeping an even pace throughout the race.

“Braden had a controlled effort. That’s a great opener for the season for him,” he said.

On the women’s side, Sexton’s time was the fastest for a Queen’s female athlete in a five-kilometre race since three-time CIS champion Beth Whiteman in 2001.

Lakins said Sexton’s

performance set the bar high for the rest of the team.

“Leslie set the tone for the day by taking it out hard and finishing second,” he said.

The team’s performance showed an exciting year is ahead for the Gaels, but Novakowski said they have no room to congratulate themselves.

“We were all really excited, but we have to forget about what we just did and train as if nothing happened,” he said. “You can’t rest on your laurels thinking about what you have done.”

Lakins said he knows his team won’t lose its focus.

“I think we all recognize it’s a long season and we still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We think both teams can still race better. Every time you get to a new race it’s not about what you have done in the past, it’s what you do that day.”

The team’s next meet is two weeks away at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, where the Gaels will be the only Canadian school competing.

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