Cross country win big at OUA Championships

MacDougall sisters finish 1 and 2, men shock with OUA silver

The women’s cross country team won OUA gold.
The women’s cross country team won OUA gold.

Things didn’t go as planned for Head Coach Steve Boyd’s cross country teams at the OUA Championships last Saturday. They went better.

Headed into the weekend, Boyd said it’d serve as an appetizer for the U Sports Championship, which will take place at Fort Henry on Nov. 10. The end result, though, was a second consecutive OUA banner for the women’s team, a silver medal for the men, and seven total individual Gaels receiving OUA All-Star nods.

Men’s cross country upsets Guelph for silver medal

Earlier last week, U Sports released their weekly rankings, voted on by every coach in the country. Queen’s was nationally-ranked eighth, well behind first-place Guelph and second-place McMaster.

“Everyone we talked to said that’s just ridiculous,” Boyd said about his team’s spot in the rankings.

With that and a little motivation in their back pocket, the men’s team raced to OUA silver, the team’s best finish since winning gold in 1989. They won bronze at last year’s championships.

Second-year Mitch De Lange led the Gaels, coming fourth overall, while Mitch Kirby and Matt Flood picked up OUA All-Star honours, landing in seventh and thirteenth. Ruben Sansom, who earned OUA Rookie of the Year, finished in 16th place while Masters student Rob Kanko came in 20th as the final Queen’s scorer.

“The gun goes off and we establish ourselves in the top pack right away—we have six in the top 12 at one point,” Boyd said of the beginning of last Saturday’s race.

Queen’s performance wasn’t surprising to Boyd and his athletes. Competitors, however, were shocked at the Gaels’ strength.

“One of the [McMaster] guys told me, ‘We expected to see some of your top guys up there but I looked around at one point and they were all there,’” Boyd said, adding the Gaels thought they’d finished in third place when the race ended. 

But when official results were posted, Queen’s had scored 14 points behind McMaster and just six ahead of U Sports defending champions Guelph.

“The guys [came] out of the clubhouse cheering and yelling,” Boyd said of the moment his team found out about their silver medal finish.

Second-year runner Brett Crowley—who Boyd says is the Gaels’ second-best runner—finished in 57th place, but was told to pace himself because of an injury sustained earlier in the season. However, with two weeks to train and recover for the U Sports Championships, Boyd said Crowley will play a critical role in bringing Queen’s close to a U Sports medal, which he thinks could be gold.

“The perfect situation is that [if] we get Brett back to our number two, we can win everything.”

Women’s cross country win second straight OUA Championship

Unlike the men, the women’s cross country had expectations to finish top of the pack on Saturday. Despite being nationally-ranked first all season, Boyd previously told The Journal he didn’t expect a gold medal from the team, despite having their eyes set on a banner at the U Sports Championships.

Yet, despite missing one of their top runners in Taylor Sills—who will be in the lineup at nationals in two weeks—Queen’s drove home with the championship trophy.

“It was pretty spectacular,” Boyd said of the women’s performance.

Sister duo Brogan and Branna MacDougall finished first and second, though rookie Makenna Fitzgerald finished in fourth and first-year Kara Blair came seventh, putting four Gaels in the top 10. While their rookies’ performances were exceptional, Boyd said the day went according to plan.

“It was pretty exciting but the race pretty much went according to script,” he said. 

Brogan, who went home with Rookie of the Year honours and an individual gold medal, beat her sister by 31 seconds. While Branna had yet to race all season due to lingering injuries, Boyd said Brogan is “on another level.”

“As soon as they were allowed to separate it was like ‘boom,’” he said of the sister duo.

With under two weeks to go until the national championships, the women’s team is looking to uphold their position as first in the country.  

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