Kitz is king at Queen’s

Cross-country finishes second at home meet

Braden Novakowski (L) and Robert Kitz set out on Saturday.
Braden Novakowski (L) and Robert Kitz set out on Saturday.

Anyone who was brave enough to withstand the icy winds atop Fort Henry Hill on Saturday afternoon was rewarded with the chance to see Queen's runner Robert Kitz win gold at the Queen’s Open cross-country meet.

Wearing red gloves to match his Queen’s jersey, Kitz was one of four runners to break away early. By the end of the race he was running alone and he finished the 10-kilometre race in a time of 32:59, a full ten seconds ahead of the nearest competitor.

Braden Novakowski also had an excellent race, finishing third with a time of 33:48. He ran with the lead pack for most of the race, running alone only when Kitz and second place finisher Mike Thorsen pulled ahead. Thorsen represented the Saugeen Track and Field Club out of London.

Head coach Shane Lakins said everyone’s times were slower than usual because of the weather but added that his athletes didn’t let it get to them.

“The conditions were challenging yesterday for sure but everyone runs in the same weather.”

Lakins said that, in good weather, Kitz is in good enough shape to run 10 kilometres in 30 minutes.

Kitz said less than perfect conditions are not unusual and runners just have to treat each event separately.

“We’ve had a couple of races where the course has been muddy and slow so you can’t think about time too much,” he said.

He said he looks at each race as a stepping stone to the national championships at Laval in a month and placement in each race is a better indication of where he is in the field.

“I’ve known all along the focus is the championships,” he said. “I’ve won a few races, which is gratifying, but you know that that’s not what it’s all about.”

The top seven runners and one spare will represent Queen’s at the OUA Championships in two weeks.

Lakins said Chris Hartman has been steadily improving throughout the season and really stepped up on his home course.

“Chris Hartman was kind of on the bubble for making the [OUA team],” Lakins said. “He really showed that he’s not only part of that eight but probably part of that top five.”

Hartman finished in seventh place with a time of 34:24.

The men’s team finished second overall behind the University of Toronto in a field of 13 schools.

The women’s team also finished second overall behind U of T in the five-kilometre race.

Amy Schneeberg was once again Queen’s top female finisher, crossing the line in seventh spot with a time of 19:27.

Erin McClure of the University of Toronto led the pack from the start, finishing 17 seconds ahead of the second place runner, with a time of 18:37.

Victoria Swan and Leslie Sexton were Queen’s second and third place finishers, coming in at 11th and 15th overall.

“The big race for us was probably having Charlotte [Aust], Daun [Lynch], Ali [Aasen] and Liz [Miller] all together,” Lakins said.

All four women have been training to increase their race pace to move closer to Schneeberg, and Lakins said their hard work is paying off.

They finished 32nd, 35th, 34th and 27th, respectively.

“We want to be a little closer [to Amy] but we also expect Amy to improve,” Lakins said, adding that the team will really be counting on the consistency of Swan and Sexton at the OUA meet.

He said Saturday’s results bode well for the team as they prepare for OUAs. The team will take some time to relax and do some fun runs through Kingston parks before getting into some of their toughest training of the season, he said.

“The peak is really created by a change in training but also a change in attitude,” he said.

Queen's will host this year's OUA Championships at Fort Henry Hill on Oct. 28.

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