Cross country makes historical signing

Queen’s signs Brogan MacDougall with sights set on long-term success

Brogan MacDougall (left) and Queen’s cross country coach Steve Boyd (right).

Queen’s women’s cross country has a dynasty in the making. 

With a group of their top athletes preparing to graduate in the spring, cross country head coach Steve Boyd and assistant coach Brant Stachel have been looking for ways to maintain Queen’s position as the lone frontrunner in Canadian University Cross Country. 

On Wednesday, Boyd and Stachel made waves across the cross country community by signing Kingston’s own Brogan MacDougall, one of North America’s fastest young runners.

“We’ve never had an athlete of this calibre, really, because there’s never been an athlete of this calibre come into the CIS or U Sports. There literally has never been anyone,” Boyd said in Wednesday’s press conference.

The young sensation will join her sister, second-year runner Branna MacDougall. At the press conference in the ARC, Brogan said she’s looking forward to succeeding at every course she steps foot on.

“I’m just really excited to make this next step in my running career,” Brogan said.

Even with offers from Princeton and Michigan on the table for the younger MacDougall, she decided to stick with what she knew. As a Kingston resident, MacDougall has thrived under Boyd’s running organization, Physi-Kult, for the last five years. 

While the offers from south of the border were flattering, the comfort of running at home and the chance to study at Queen’s trumped everything else.

“I think not having to get used to new training and new training partners, that was a big factor for my decision,” MacDougall said.

When Boyd first met Brogan in 2012, it was clear she shared similarities with her older sister. Branna had already established herself in the running community, making Brogan’s entrance into the running community seamless. At that point, Branna had begun making strong appearances at OFSAA and was well on her way to running at the international level.

“I’d never met her before so I asked her, ‘do you run like your sister?’ and she said, ‘I don’t know.’ It was obvious that she had ability early on … she has just taken off from there. Every year she just does something that blows everybody’s mind,” Boyd said.

Despite a relatively short career, MacDougall’s accomplishments speak for themselves. She’s currently the OFSAA record-holder in the 3,000 metre, a Pan Am junior cross country champion and a bronze medalist at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games — her greatest achievement in her opinion. 

The signing couldn’t come at a better time for Boyd, as both 2016 U Sports Champion Claire Sumner and fifth year Shannen Murray are set to graduate in the spring.

“It’s a total rebuild this year. Our senior leadership that put the team on the podium for the last four years are gone after this year … [with this] we can anticipate people to sign over the next few years and hopefully build a dynasty,” Boyd said.

Boyd and Stachel have already gotten a head start on this, with 

the coaches recently signing Madeline Smart-Reed from Etobicoke, Ontario and Laura Yantha of Barry’s Bay, Ontario. Alongside MacDougall, the new crop of athletes will look to continue Queen’s reign as the top program in the country.

For now, the younger MacDougall is looking forward to rejoining her sister in training and races as the two look to conquer the Canadian running scene. In her second year of eligibility, Branna is excited for the opportunity to compete with and against her sister.

“I’m really excited. We’re good training partners,” Branna said. In order to stay disciplined, the sisters are planning on living together at the start of the 2018 season.

“Hopefully we can just keep pushing each other to new limits,” Brogan said.

Despite being in the early years of her career, MacDougall and her coaches both believe her talents can bring her as far as she wants to go.

 “She’s got very serious athletic objective’s; I think she’d like to make the Olympic team in 2020 and staying here was the quickest route to doing that,” Boyd said.

MacDougall clearly has the same line of thought as Boyd, but isn’t jumping the gun quite yet.

“A lot of things can change in that amount of time but it’s in the back of my mind and it would be really hard but I’m really young so don’t rule anything out,” said MacDougall.

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