The men’s cross-country team’s roster will see no shortage of local talent next season.
On Monday afternoon, Kingston Collegiate Vocational Institute (KCVI) student Miles Brackenbury signed with the men’s cross country team for the coming 2018-19 season, joining three other Kingston runners—Matt Flood, Mitch Kirby, and Mitch De Lange—already with the program.
Brackenbury, 17, has previously trained with Queen’s coaches Steve Boyd and Brant Stachel at local running club, Physi-Kult, and will recognize familiar faces in his new training environment. Stachel, the assistant coach for the team, has coached Brackenbury since he was in the ninth grade.
In a phone interview with The Journal, Stachel mentioned he has a personal relationship with Brackenbury, having coached him before he was recruited.
Brackenbury’s trained with both Boyd, cross country’s head coach, and Boyd’s wife, who taught at Brackenbury’s elementary school. Boyd’s wife was the young runner’s coach before he began at KCVI, and Stachel became his coach when he transitioned into high school.
“Now he’s going to be with [Boyd] and I at university, which is pretty cool,” Stachel said.
In the 2017-18 high school cross country season, Brackenbury ran his personal best in 6,100 meters with a time of 19:09.5 at the EOSSAA regional championships. He ran an average pace of 03:08.4 per kilometre—a speed that’d keep him on pace with Queen’s existing roster in their usual eight to 10 kilometre races.
Despite his youth, Brackenbury’s accomplishments include ranking third in the country for the under-18 steeplechase and being a seven-time EOSSAA champion in track and field.
With one more track and field season remaining before joining the Gaels, Brackenbury has a shot at a gold medal for KCVI at the OFSAA Championships in June. At Queen’s Brackenbury will enroll in Concurrent-Education, anticipating a five-year stay with the cross country program.
Stachel expects Brackenbury to step in as a scorer for the team—in the OUA and U Sports Championships, a team’s first five runners make up their score.
This past season, the men’s cross-country team was nationally-ranked eighth entering the OUA Championships before taking everyone by surprise and coming away with a silver medal. The team’s second-place finish knocked the defending U Sports champions Guelph into third. At the U Sports Championships, the men produced a fifth-place finish, matching their performance at the event the season prior.
“I think we’re still in a really good hunt for the OUA podium again,” Stachel said of how Brackenbury can factor in to the Gaels’ success. “We show a really good track record of developing local kids.”
The local talent on the women’s team is also notable, including U Sports Rookie of the Year, Brogan MacDougall. Both Brogan and her older sister, Branna—last year’s OUA Champion and this year’s second-place finisher—are from Kingston. The sisters trained with Boyd before attending Queen’s.
For Stachel, the cross country program’s track record of developing young local talent will hopefully be indicative of Brackenbury’s career at Queen’s.
“We think we can continue that trend [of developing homegrown runners], and hopefully, by second year, [Brackenbury’s] somebody who, like Flood and [Kirby], could go top-10, top-14 at the OUA level.”
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