Cross country strong at home

On Saturday the men’s and women’s cross-country teams hosted the Queen’s Invitational, matching their talent against some of the best runners in the province at Fort Henry Hill.

“The event went really well,” said head coach Shane Lakins. “We had lots of spectators, because it’s a spectator-friendly course—you can see 80 per cent of the race from the sidelines.” The women’s field was the biggest in event history, with 140 runners from 14 universities facing off on the 5-kilometre course at Fort Henry. U of T finished first in the overall team standings with 52 points, while Windsor finished a close second with 61 points, and Western trailed behind to take third with 104 points. Queen’s finished in fourth place with 128 points.

The Gaels were led by rookie Leslie Sexton, who finished in 15th place in 19 minutes and 51 seconds. Amy Schneeberg—another rookie—finished in 19th place, while Victoria Swan finished in 25th place. Jenny Harris was next in line for the Gaels, finishing in 40th place.

The Gaels also received strong efforts from Courtney Kirkby (50th place), Charlotte Aust (52nd), rookie Caitlin Hesketh (64th), Ali Aasen (67th) and Natalie Desmimin (81st).

Beth Wightman, a former Golden Gael who now runs for U of T, easily won the women’s race in 18 minutes and 19 seconds.

The fourth place finish is promising for the women’s team, who are hoping to have similar success at the OUA championships in two weeks. If the women can finish in the top five in the overall team standings at the OUAs, they will qualify for a trip to the CIS championships at Dalhousie University in Halifax next month.

Head coach Shane Lakins said he was very pleased with the women’s results, but added he knows the team will face an even tougher challenge at the OUAs.

“The women’s side has some very consistent and solid runners,” Lakins said. “They ran pretty well, but we still have room to improve in the next two weeks.”

The men’s team had high expectations for themselves going into the Queen’s Invitational, and they did not disappoint. The Gaels finished second out of the 12 teams competing with 78 points, narrowly losing the championship to a strong Western Mustangs team that totaled 70 points.

The Gaels were led by Robert Kitz—an OUA All-Star and Second Team All-Canadian last year—who finished the 10-kilometre race in sixth place with a time of 33 minutes and 41 seconds. Veteran Chris Nagle, in his fifth season as a Gael, finished in eighth place in 33 minutes and 53 seconds. Queen’s also received scoring performances from Kevin Dunbar (21st), Justin Hall (26th) and Jared Thompson (27th). Other notable efforts included Josh Smith (31st), Jeff Bar (33rd), Chris Brens (34th) and Chris van de Water (39th), all of whom finished the race in under 36 minutes.

Waterloo University’s Scott Arnald, an OUA All-Star and All-Canadian last year, won the men’s race in 32 minutes and 40 seconds.

Lakins said he expected the men’s team to do well at their home invitational meet.

“The men’s side is very deep,” he said. “We have a lot of talented runners with great potential.”

Lakins added he hopes that both teams will have great results at the OUA championships on October 29 and would like to see the teams make it to the CIS championships in Halifax.

Both Gaels teams will have a slight edge in the provincial championships, since those will also be held on their home course at Fort Henry Hill.

Lakins said fans are more than welcome to come out and cheer the teams on at the OUAs. He said it would be nice for fans to take advantage of having such a high-quality event so close to the University.

“The best runners in Ontario will be coming to Kingston in two weeks,” he said. “Many of these athletes have represented Canada at a national level.”

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