THUNDER BAY – The Lakehead Cross Country Running teams opened up their season this past weekend at the Thames Valley golf course in London, Ontario competing in the Western International Invitational. Overall the teams started off their season well against a number of the best schools in Canada and a few from the U.S. In what was a damp and slow course due to falling rain, Lakehead’s men’s team finished 5th (out of 18) women’s team placed 13th (out of 18).
The women’s 5km race had 163 runners in the field. Senior Danielle Thiel (Regina, SK) led the way for the women placing 6th overall in a time 18:21. Mary Strain, in her first ever university race, finished in 78th while 3rd year Jessica Baraskewich placed 90th. Shortly after, freshmen Victoria Alexander placed 97th while Elora Beitz finished off the scoring placing 106th.
In the men’s 8km race, senior recruit Connor McGuire (Summerside, PE) ran strong in his Lakehead debut leading the team and crossing the line 11th in a time 25:48. Dominique Aulagnon stepped up big on the day and placed 14th in a time of 25:55. Kevin Tree ran a gutsy race mixing it up with the front pack before cramping up and falling off the lead pack but finished strong in 18th.
Senior Chris Brown ran a great race placing 30th while Ben Jones finished in 52nd. Coming off an injury in the summer, freshmen Mason Quarrell ran a huge race placing 53rd. Tyler White ran a conservative race and placed 68th while senior Travis Roske had a rough day but gave it his all finishing 86th out of 156 men in the field.
The swampy course made it difficult on all runners, but a lot of experience was gained through the weekend, with both the men’s and women’s team heading in the right direction.
As coach Kip Sigsworth explains, “The main goal for the weekend was to see where we are at and identify things we need to improve over the next five weeks before OUA’s. Overall the men ran well today and mixed it up with best teams in the OUA. The men can and need to be a lot better, but we started in a good place and proved that a team podium finish is a possibility this season. The women are very young and will benefit from this experience moving forward.”
The team travels to Minneapolis, Minnesota next weekend to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational, where they will compete against some of the best schools in the United States.