Repeat bronze

Women duplicate 2013 CIS result

Alex Wilkie was Queen’s top male performer at the CIS championships in St. John’s, finishing 10th overall.
Alex Wilkie was Queen’s top male performer at the CIS championships in St. John’s, finishing 10th overall.

Julie-Anne Staehli’s silver-medal run led Queen’s women to their second straight national bronze medal last Saturday.

While she couldn’t repeat as the Canadian champion, the third-year’s performance helped the Gaels net medals on both the individual and team fronts at the CIS cross country championships in St. John’s.

Staehli finished the six-kilometre race in 22:50.3, eight seconds back of the gold medalist, the Guelph Gryphons’ Carise Thompson. At the same event one year ago, Thompson finished 17 seconds behind Staehli.

Gaels head coach Steve Boyd said Staehli was still dealing with some nagging injuries that affected her for most of the season.

“She was injured for maybe a third to a half of the season,” Boyd said. “She just went out and ran her usual brilliant poised race and managed to grab the silver.”

Joining Staehli as an All-Canadian was first-year Claire Sumner, who finished sixth for Queen’s. The Gaels finished with 132 points overall, 27 points back of the second-place Trinity Western Spartans in cross country’s low-scoring system.

The Gryphons captured the overall title once again, winning their 10th consecutive CIS championship with 34 total points.

Boyd said the women’s team met the expectations they had for themselves heading into the national competition.

“We thought we had a shot at second on the women’s side, but it would have been really tough to knock off Trinity Western,” he said.

“Getting third, double podium finish from the team last year was a great accomplishment on our side. And we did with only one runner common to both teams. Only Julie-Anne scored this year and last year, which is a testament to our team depth.”

The Gaels men’s team finished in 10th place overall, buoyed by All-Canadian Alex Wilkie, who ended up 10th himself.

The Gryphons completed their sweep of the gold medals, winning the team competition on the men’s side and claiming an individual win from Ross Proudfoot.

2014 served as a rebuilding year for the Gaels’ men, who featured a rookie-heavy squad this season. Jeff Archer, their top finisher from last year, sat out the season to maintain his eligibility for the 2015 championships.

Boyd said the men’s goal was just to make the national championships, though they could have done slightly better.

“We knew we were rebuilding this year,” he said. “We knew we’d be in tough, but we made it there, which was the goal on the men’s side. We hoped maybe we could finish seventh or eighth and we ended up finishing 10th. A little off, but that would have been gravy.”

Boyd said both teams have the chance to improve on their 2014 performances next year.

“We return everybody on the women’s side and we return everyone on this year’s men’s team, plus we add Jeff Archer back in and David Cashin,” he said. “I think we’re definitely a podium team next year on the men’s side and then we continue to be on the women’s side.”

Boyd added that the team is looking to have podium finishes on the men’s and women’s sides of next year’s event at both the team and individual levels — something the program has never accomplished.

“Those are realistic goals,” he said. “Things would have to go right for us, but I think that’s definitely something we have to look forward to.”

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