National success for Sexton

Women’s runner earns All-Canadian honours, men place fifth in CIS meet

The Queen’s cross country team travelled across Canada last weekend to compete at the CIS championships in Victoria.

The men’s and women’s teams placed fifth and seventh, respectively, as the University of Guelph Gryphons became the first team in CIS history to repeat as double gold medal winners.

Beautiful fall weather created perfect racing conditions as Canada’s top cross country runners competed in downtown Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park.

Although no one on the Queen’s team had raced on the course before, it featured technical turns and hills that resembled Kingston’s familiar Fort Henry circuit.

Both teams delivered respectable overall performances, but the highlight of the weekend was Leslie Sexton’s fifth place finish in the five-kilometre women’s event. The result earned her a first-team All-Canadian selection.

It was the grand finale of what has been a strong season for Sexton, who also came first at the Queen’s Invitational Oct. 13 and won a bronze medal at the OUA championship Oct. 27.

Head coach Shane Lakins said Sexton had a breakout season.

“That is an amazing result,” he said. “She’s raced dynamite for us this year.”

Lakins said Sexton benefited from her determined approach to training.

“She has raced unbelievably well. You get the results back if you put the work in and her results this year are because of the work she put in this summer,” he said.

“It’s a very good example of what it takes to be at the top of your game.”

Lakins said the seventh-ranked Gaels women met expectations by finishing seventh at the national championship.

“We thought we could maybe get up to fourth or fifth if we had a good race,” he said. “You always want to do better, but I think it was an appropriate result and we ran to our potential.” The men had a similar experience in Victoria, matching their national position in the final standings following a highly competitive 10-kilometre race.

“We went in ranked fifth and we came out ranked fifth,” Lakins said. “We really wanted to get a medal. I’m certainly not disappointed with fifth in the country, but we might have hoped to do better.” Rob Kitz was the top Queen’s competitor in 13th place.

Lakins said the women’s team should remain competitive next year due to its youthful core, singling out promising rookie runner Lea Larocque.

“She’s the real deal. She should be a bright spot for our team next year. We know we’re going to be very strong on the women’s side.”

The future is less certain for the Queen’s men, with the squad losing half of its varsity runners to graduation.

“We would have liked to send them off with a medal, but we weren’t able to pull it off,” Lakins said.

“That’s championship racing.”

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