EAU CLAIR, WI- (With files from Alastair Brown) – Coming off a strong performance at the Roy Griak Invitational, the Lakehead University Cross Country teams yet again made their way south of the border to take on some NCAA competition.
The BluGold Invitational, put on by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, plays host to the top Midwest NCAA DII and DIII schools. Although lacking in spectacle when compared to Griak, the field in Eau Claire was as competitive, if not more so, than the DII and DIII fields seen in Minneapolis last Saturday. The Thunderwolves represented Canada well, with the Women finishing fourth out of 19 teams and the men finishing eighth in a field of 22.
Fourth-year Hilary Qurion (Thunder Bay, ON) led the women by improving on her performance at Griak. Hilary covered the six-kilometre course in 22:31.6, good enough for ninth place in a field of 341 runners. Also placing high were fourth-year Lisa Alaimo (Hamilton, ON) and fifth-year Tess Naroski (Thunder Bay, ON). Alaimo’s time of 23:14 netted her a 26th place finish while Naroski, battling a cold, ran tough to finish 41st with a 23:24 clocking.
While Quirion, Alaimo, and Naroski placed well, the real story for the ‘Wolves was the huge improvement that second-year Danielle Thiel (Regina, SK) made from her run at Griak last weekend. In a similar caliber field, Thiel vaulted over 70 spots and a minute and a half to finish 70th in 23:54. Close behind her was Callie Roelfsema (Olds, AB), who finished 87th in 24:09. With Callie acting as the final scorer, the ‘Wolves tallied 154 points, placing them a solid fourth behind Carleton, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Liz Berkholtz (unattached) won the overall title, narrowly beating out Simone Childs-Walker of Carleton.
On the men’s side, fourth-year Alastair Brown (Winnipeg, MB) was once again out front for the Thunderwolves. Brown ripped the eight-kilometre course in 25:23, good enough for fourth overall in a huge field of 372 runners. Joining Brown in the top-20 was rookie Dominique Aulagnon (Thunder Bay, ON), who placed 14th in 25:46. Rounding out the scorers for the men were Travis Roske (Regina, SK), Dalton Rismay (Brampton, ON), and Connor Price (Ottawa, ON), who placed 55th, 58th, and 132nd, respectively. Geoff Chambers-Bedard (133rd) and Chris Brown (234th) acted as displacers for the ‘Wolves. Tim Nelson of the University of Wisconsin-Stout took the overall title while the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse ran a strong pack race to take the team title ahead of St. Olaf.
Coach Kip Sigsworth was again pleased with both teams’ efforts, “I was happy with the way the athletes competed today. We are in the middle of a tough training period so they carried some fatigue with them into the race but for the most part were able to run tough and get the job done. Dom ran great coming off a rough day last weekend and Danielle is getting back to where the team needs her to be. A month out from OUA’s were are looking good but there is still lots of work to be done and room for improvement.”
The team have the Thanksgiving weekend off before travelling back to Wisconsin for the UW – Oshkosh Brooks PR meet on October 14th.