Cross-border success for cross country

Men finish one point from a perfect score

It appears American schools could stand to learn a few things about cross-country running from their Canadian counterparts.

The Queen’s cross country team travelled to Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. last weekend and claimed the team titles for both the men and women’s races.

In the men’s eight-kilometre race, Queen’s runners finished second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth—one spot away from a perfect team score.

Hamilton College standout Peter Kosgei of Kenya was the only runner to finish ahead of the Gaels.

Gaels coach Shane Lakins, who will also be Canada’s head coach for the 16th World University Cross Country Championships in April, said he expected his team to perform well.

“We wanted to perform well, being the only team from Canada,” he said. “We’ve done well in the past at that competition.”

The men’s team traditionally has a strong top three, but Lakins said he was most pleased with the performance of the fourth and fifth runners.

“Chris Brens and Jeff Barr [who finished fifth and sixth respectively] both stepped up,” he said. “We asked four and five to arrive and they showed up, and that four-five position will be the difference at the OUAs.”

Braden Novakowski, Robert Kitz and Matt Hulse were the Gaels’ top three finishers.

Lakins said the race went a long way to determining the team that will travel to the OUA championships in London in two weeks.

“We wanted to have most of our OUA team established by that race, and we got exactly what we needed from people,” he said.

The Gaels also had the top two finishers in the women’s five-kilometre race. Leslie Sexton crossed the finish line in 17:33, three seconds ahead of fellow Gael Nadia Tatlow.

Other Gael finishers included Chelsey Wyrostok, Liz Miller and rookie Leah Larocque, who finished fourth, fifth and ninth respectively.

Lakins looked beyond the top finishers when giving out his accolades for the women’s team. He said that the team’s eighth finisher, Liza Howard, impressed him the most.

“She was on our development team last year and not even on the radar as far as making the team,” he said. “Now she’s likely our next one in line for an OUA spot.”

The team now turns its attention to hosting the Queen’s Invitational this weekend.

Lakins said the team won’t be at full-strength for the event.

“It’s an opportunity for that second tier to shine,” he said. “We’re going to rest some of our top people.”

Despite the absence of key runners such as Novakowski and Kitz, Lakins expects the team to be competitive.

“We have enough depth that we still expect to challenge for the team title at our own home meet but we’re definitely not at our full strength.”

The meet will take place on Saturday at Fort Henry Hill. The women’s race starts at 11 a.m. and the men start at 11:40 a.m.

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