Cross-country gears up for OUA championships

Both men’s and women’s cross country finished fourth at the Queen’s Open, look forward to provincial competition

The men’s and women’s cross country squads both had fourth-place finishes last Saturday in the Queen’s Open invitational at the Fort Henry Hill course, but head coach Shane Lakins said the women ran one of the best races he has seen in his coaching career.

“It’s really kind of goofy,” he said. “That’s as good a race as I’ve seen in 14 years.” Leslie Sexton had the women’s team’s best finish, placing sixth with a time of 18:25:7 over the

five-kilometre course. Elizabeth Miller and Leah Larocque also cracked the top 20, finishing 16th and 18th respectively.

Sexton said there’s still room for her to improve.

“To be honest, I wasn’t entirely happy with my performance,” she said. “We were training pretty hard before the race, so I went in with my legs a little tired.” According to Sexton, the Fort Henry course is unique because it’s not on a golf course, unlike many of the other OUA tracks.

“It’s definitely a tough course; the footing’s not so great,” she said. “It favours the true

cross-country runner.”

She said the key is to get the training in now and then rest up before the approaching OUA championships, which she has high hopes for.

“I definitely see us up on that podium,” she said.

The team might have more issues to deal with after Sexton sustained a foot injury that developed after Saturday’s race. The fourth-year history major said she’s staying positive about it, though.

“At this point we’re not sure if it will keep me out for a couple months or a few days,” she said. “I’m trying not to get upset before I know what it is.”

The men’s team entered this season without four of the five stars that led the team to a national fifth-place finish last year, but three of their runners still finished in the top 20. Third-year runner Matt Hulse finished the 10-kilometre course in a time of 33:16:9, good enough to earn seventh place. Clay Patterson and Luke Elgin placed 18th and 19th respectively.

Lakins said the turnover in talent means his young team needs time to reach its potential.

“The future’s looking very bright,” he said. “We need another year or two to hit our stride with these guys.” Lakins said his athletes are still rebounding from a flu bug that has been going through the team.

With the OUA championships a few weeks away, Lakins said they’re implementing little things into training to keep the team improving and growing closer together.

“After training, [we’re] getting together and having some chocolate milk or some type of post-workout nutrition,” he said. “We’re becoming a tighter team.”

The OUAs will bring the team back to Fort Henry on Oct. 25, and Lakins said hosting the championships may give Queen’s an edge.

“We know the course intimately,” he said. “We train on it once

a week.”

Lakins said his team looks forward to the crowd support that comes along with competing at home.

“Cross country in Kingston is a big deal,” he said. “We’re expecting over 1,000 people up on the hill.”

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