Cross country dominates podium at Queen’s invitational

Brogan MacDougall wins first career university race, men hold down first five positions

Brogan MacDougall won her first university race at the Queen’s Invitational this weekend.
Brogan MacDougall won her first university race at the Queen’s Invitational this weekend.

It was hard to be pessimistic about the cross country team’s return this weekend at the annual Queen’s Invitational.

In their first official race on the Fort Henry hills—the location of this year’s U Sports Championships—the women’s and men’s team filled up the podium with tricolour singlets.

For the women, rookie Brogan MacDougall finished first with a time of 29:04.72, while teammates Taylor Sills and Makenna Fitzgerald followed less than a minute behind her.

Meanwhile, the men secured the first five positions in their race. Mitchell De Lange had a successful return from an injury after sitting last season out, finishing ahead of second and third place teammates Brett Crowley and Matt Flood, respectively.

Both races were eight kilometres, and saw temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius alongside crippling humidity. Numerous athletes failed to cross the finish line.

MacDougall said the race plan for the men and women was to treat the invitational as a training run at their workout pace.

“The plan was to stick with the lead pack because we thought it would be our [team] until the last three [kilometers],” MacDougall said, adding it was her second race since officially recovering from a minor injury sustained earlier this summer. “It feels really good to be back out and racing.”

MacDougall’s sister, Branna MacDougall, in her second year with the program, chose not to race on Saturday—though she remains in healthy form as the Gaels power through the thick of their high-mileage training season.

Cross country head coach Steve Boyd was equally pleased with the rookie and Kingston local’s performance.

“We’re super impressed with Brogan,” Boyd said. He noted that her race time was 30 seconds off her personal best on the course—a notable number considering she’s raced numerous national championships at Fort Henry before.

As for his men’s team, Boyd said he was excited to see the depth his runners showed in their first race of the season.

“This is the first year on the men’s side where we have no clue who the top guy is,” Boyd said. For the veteran coach, this is an asset—he explained that between their top four men, each one’s time is separate by roughly 10 seconds.

Third-place finisher Matt Flood agreed with his coach, saying the top position is up for grabs at the moment. Flood complimented teammate de Lange’s strong race, but also added that Crowley will be in tight with that top group as the season moves along.

“I don’t think we saw the best of Crowley,” Flood said. “In training, he’s far ahead of the group.”

The Gaels will now be far from the comforts of home for more than a month as they head into a series of invitationals leading up to the OUA Championships at Western in late October.

Next weekend, the program will receive a primer for provincials as they travel to London for the Western Invitational.

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