Runner wins gold at Western

Robert Kitz is first Gael ever win event

Robert Kitz was first across the line at the Western International last Saturday.
Robert Kitz was first across the line at the Western International last Saturday.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by Shane Lakins
Heavyweight men Andrew Rastapkevicius and Mike Wilkinson competing at the under-23 World Championships in Belgium.
Heavyweight men Andrew Rastapkevicius and Mike Wilkinson competing at the under-23 World Championships in Belgium.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
Chris Hartman, Trevor Saunders and Jeff Barr running at McGill on Sept. 16.
Chris Hartman, Trevor Saunders and Jeff Barr running at McGill on Sept. 16.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by Shane Lakins

In his first meet of the season, Contributor Robert Kitz outran a field of 142 competitors to take first place at the Western International cross-country meet last Saturday, becoming the first Queen’s student ever to win the race.

Kitz separated himself from the pack around the halfway mark and led for the remainder of the course. He ran the 10 kilometres in 32:55, the only man to break the 33 minute mark. Fellow Gael Chris Hartman also had a unique race. He finished in 24th place after expertly recovering from an equipment malfunction. “[He] ran about nine and a half kilometres with one shoe,” head coach Shane Lakins said. Near the beginning of the race, a competitor stepped on Hartman’s foot, pulling his shoe off. After a failed attempt to get it back on, he was forced to get rid of it and finish the race on one shoe. Lakins said Hartman fell to the back of the pack and had to work his way back up, adding, “It was fortunate that the course was all grass so there was minimal risk of injury.”

The men’s team finished fifth out of 15 teams and the women finished sixth out of 13 teams. With a time of 19:40, Amy Schneeberg was the first Queen’s woman to cross the line, finishing 20th in a field of 129 runners; Lakins said the race was not one of her best. He said most of the veteran runners posted times slightly slower than average because of the high intensity of their current training regimen. The Gaels are in the middle of the most rigorous section of their training season. Lakins said that suffering a little fatigue is a small sacrifice and one that everyone is willing to make.

“You have to put in that time early in the season if you want to reap the rewards later on,” he said. “We were not looking to peak in this race by any stretch of the imagination.”

In terms of training, the next two weeks will be their most intense of the season, Lakins said. After
that, the runners will alter their program to ensure they hit their peak performance state in time for the OUA Championships on Oct. 10 at RMC.The rookies also had a successful outing, several of them competing for Queen’s for the first time. Lakins said he is pleased, especially with the female rookies’
integration into the team. “When the top seven [women] are within 1:11 of each other, that’s what we like to see.”

The top female rookie was Julie McVicar, who placed 67th. Heather Bijman made a solid start to her
first season with the Gaels placing 84th. Lakins said she’s a strong competitor and he looks forward to er track team debut later this fall.“I think by the time track rolls around she could be a dominant force for us,” he said. The top male rookie was Trevor Walmsley, who finished 53rd. The courses at Western were five kilometres for the women and 10 for the men. This gave the athletes a chance to judge their performances on courses the same lengths as those they will run in the championship meets.

Lakins said the coaches were also able to get a better idea of the team’s state.

Today the team competes at the Paul Short Invitational in Lehigh, Penn. Queen’s will be running against more than 30 NCAA schools, including Penn State, Princeton, Yale and Columbia. Lakins said it will be one of their tougher events this year, but the Gaels are still lookingto make a mark. “We’re fortunate in that we get to do this and in the past we’ve actually beaten some of these teams.” The men’s team has consistently placed in the top half and the women have placed as high as sixth. He said the goal for both the men’s and women’s teams is to place in the top half of the field. This will be Braden Novakowski’s first meet after returning from injury. Lakins said Lehigh is a tough meet to open the season with but Novakowski is fit and ready for it. “We’re just going in to get a race under
his belt.” The meet in Pennsylvania allows teams to bring seven men and seven women. Michelle Nicholson is the only rookie the Gaels will take to Pennsylvania. She placed 116th in this weekend’s race.

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