Cross country places sixth

Gaels host OUA Championship, men’s side performs to expectations but women underachieve

Both the Queen’s men’s and women’s cross country teams earned sixth-place finishes at the OUA cross-country championships held at the Fort Henry Hill course on Oct. 28.

Head coach Shane Lakins said he was pleased with his squad’s individual results.

“You always want all 14 of our athletes to have their best races at the championships. I’d say we had 11 of our 14 athletes perform to their best at the championships.”

Lakins said the overall team results were bittersweet as he felt the women’s team did not perform to their potential.

“On the men’s side we raced up to the level we were expecting. On the women’s side we are good enough to be a third place team.”

Lakins said despite having home course advantage, the team had their work cut out for them due to the day’s heavy rainfall. “We certainly know the course, but the way the way the weather played out it was a great equalizer for everyone.”

Lakins said he is planning to take some of his team to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship being held on Nov. 8 at Laval University.

“On the women’s side we’re going to CIs, and we hope to bring Josh Potvin and Trevor Walmsley. ... As we are hosting CIs next year, we hope to have a couple of men who have been there before.”

Potvin was the team’s highest ranking male, placing 23rd overall. Walmsley was the team’s runner up, with a 37th-place finish in the men’s 10-kilometre race.

Lakins said the women’s team showing was partially affected by a foot injury to team captain Leslie Sexton.

“We were dealing with the blisters a week before the race. It wasn’t the best, but Leslie’s a battler and she’ll be ready for CIs in a couple of weeks,” he said.

Lakins said he has high hopes for his women’s team at nationals.

“We would have liked to be third in the OUA on the women’s side. With so many good OUA teams, our goal is to be in the top five in the country.”

Second-year runner Leah Larocque earned the Gaels’ highest result, finishing 13th overall in the women’s five-kilometre race.

“Last year I was at the same race, but this year it was more competitive,” she said. “I am happy with my race on Saturday, it was downpour raining. With hard conditions like that, you don’t know what to expect. It could have gone either way for me.”

Larocque said she owes her performance to the team’s strict training regime.

“We have a really structured training plan. In September, we had all the workouts planned up until the race day. OUAs are what we wanted to reach for, so this was our goal. We tapered off. We have CIs coming up in a couple of weeks, so that’s our end goal. The work has basically been done and right now we’re focusing on being healthy and injury free.”

Larocque said the women’s team was motivated by Sexton’s presence at the race.

“She is our captain and we were happy to have her in line next to us and to have our full team there at the championships. ... A lot of girls had a really great race. We’re really happy.”

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