First at Fort Henry

Cross country team earns overall title

Queen’s was victorious at home on Saturday, winning the Queen’s Invitational at Fort Henry Hill to open the OUA cross country season.

Julia-Anne Staelhi and Jeff Archer both finished third overall in their respective races, helping Queen’s secure the overall points victory. Despite being unable to win either individual first place, the men and women dominated the top 10, combining to capture 12 of the 20 available spots. The strong showing helped Queen’s edge out their top competition, the Guelph Gryphons.

Head coach Steve Boyd was excited for the win, but realized it was abetted by Guelph’s decision to rest many of their top runners.

“They were running what we would consider a B-team, as they’re the top program in the country by a fair margin,” Boyd said. “However, we still ran very well to beat them.”

Staelhi, a rookie competing in her first collegiate event, posted a time of 18:11.4 in the 5K women’s race. She finished nearly 20 seconds ahead of the next runner.

The men’s 10K run featured an equally strong performance from the Gaels, as Queen’s captured places three to six. Led by Archer’s strong showing, the men managed to edge Guelph by one point to capture first place overall.

Fort Henry marked the first race of the season, an event that helps teams gauge their overall ability.

“This [race] is a measure of our early-season conditioning, which was obviously very high,” Boyd said. “Maybe even higher than I thought.”

Both races took place at Fort Henry, a site that can prove difficult because of its generally high winds and hilly geography. Saturday was an exception, with nearly perfect race conditions.

The Gaels will now set their sights on upcoming races, including the Western Invitational on Sept. 22 and the Paul Short Run in Lehigh, Pennsylvania on Sept. 28.

“We want to step up [our performance] each week,” Boyd said. “We’re already looking forward to championship races in late October.”

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