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Big day at nationals The men’s cross country team achieved second place at nationals and the women’s team achieved 13th

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Photo by Maxine Gravina / Digital Media Specialist 

By Jovan Popovic, Contributor

The 2019 U Sports Championship Cross Country Tournament was held last weekend on Nov. 9. Both the men’s and women’s teams travelled to Kingston for the tournament, which is widely regarded as the most important event of the year for cross country. Both teams put as much as they could into this tournament, knowing how important it was. The men’s team managed to place second overall. The first place seat went to the University of Calgary Dinos, who were the defending champions. The women’s team finished 13th. 

Team Captain Caroline Forbes led the pack for the Women’s team achieving 27th overall at the tournament. This was an astounding 47 spots ahead of where she finished last year and was awarded the Pink’s Burgers athlete of the week for her accomplishment. Forbes is only a second-year runner yet is one of the team’s most accomplished athletes, she goes to show how in a year or two the women’s team has a great chance of going the distance and medaling at the U Sports Championship. Having such a young team can certainly be challenging, but the sky is the limit for the women’s team.

Leading up to nationals, men’s team veteran runner Max Turek and head coach Paula Schnurr revealed their preparation for the tournament, as well as some team goals.

“Our goal is not to just podium, but win. We left last year hungry for more, and know we have a really good shot this year. We’re fit and ready to roll and are excited to see what we can throw down,” said Turek. 

“Our goal is not to just podium, but win. We left last year hungry for more, and know we have a really good shot this year. We’re fit and ready to roll and are excited to see what we can throw down,” said Turek.

Despite not placing first overall, as the team had hoped, their second and 13th place finishes are impressive. Just a week earlier, the men’s team came second and the women’s team placed fifth at the Ontario University Athletics cross country tournament. 

“We went into OUAs hoping for the win, but we just didn’t have it that day. We know what went wrong, and where our weaknesses are, and what needs to be done in the future to capitalize and win a title. We still have a lot of confidence going into [nationals], expecting to be able to improve from our third place last year,” said Turek.

The team seems to have reflected on what went wrong at the OUAs and focused on key areas for improvement going into the U Sports Championships. 

“After OUAs, our main focus was to just work as a team and concentrate on bringing home a U Sports national title. We wanted to make sure we were well rested going into championships, and be able to execute better than we did at OUAs,” Turek added. 

Turek stressed the importance of a U Sports title, which the team came ever so close to, eventually settling for a second place finish. The U Sports championship is the biggest stage for them, as it is the only opportunity to compete at a national level. The team was looking forward to nationals for the entire year, and their eyes had been on the prize. 

The men’s team trained specifically for this event over the past year, with all other competitions acting as lead-up to the U Sports tournament. When coach Schnurr was asked about the team’s training regiment and goals, she offered a similar response to Turek.

“After OUAs, our main focus was to just work as a team and concentrate on bringing home a U Sports national title. We wanted to make sure we were well rested going into championships, and be able to execute better than we did at OUAs,” said Schnurr. 

“After OUAs, our main focus was to just work as a team and concentrate on bringing home a U Sports national title. We wanted to make sure we were well rested going into championships, and be able to execute better than we did at OUAs,” said Schnurr.

As good as second place is, the team isn’t satisfied. This year was significant for cross country, as both the men’s and women’s teams improved from their last year finishes at U Sports. Last year, the men’s team placed third, and the women’s team placed 15th. 

This year, Turek, Alex Drover and Andrew Davies of the men’s team managed to place in the top ten at nationals, placing fifth, sixth and ninth respectively. McMaster was the only university to have three runners in the top 12. Drover and Turek made the All-Canadian first team, and Davies made the All-Canadian second-team, being chosen out of every runner in the country which is an incredible honour. Making an All-Canadian team means that out of all the qualified runners in the country they pick the very best for the first team and then the next best for the second team and so on. 

The Marauders put up a strong fight on their way to finishing second and 13th in the most important cross country tournament of the year. It will be exciting to watch the teams next year as they improve and continue to dominate the track. 

 

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