By Laura Sinclair

The McMaster Marauder’s cross country team has proven to be unstoppable with strong performances across the board from Chicago, Illinois, to Princeton, New Jersey, to Guelph, Ontario.
The women’s team won the Sean Earle Lakefront Invitational in Chicago on September 29th, comfortably with 105 points, while the men’s team finished 6th  out of 47 teams. This past Saturday, the men’s team and half of the women’s team went to the Vic Matthews Open in Guelph, while the other half of the women’s roster raced at the Princeton Invitational in New Jersey.
Despite missing the CIS 3000m champion Lindsay Carson at both the Loyola Lakefront Invitational and the Princeton Invitational, the women’s team still managed to pull off a win and a second place finish overall.
“We’re happy with our 2nd place finish at Princeton, but it was definitely a great feeling to bring home the win at Chicago,” said Victoria Coates, the individual second place finisher for both meets who had to adapt quickly to the Princeton course which required another kilometre of running accompanied with increased physical and mental strain.
Coates had a unique perspective on the new challenge: “The Princeton Invitational was a different experience for us since it was a 6 km race instead of 5 km. Personally, I like the Chicago course better because it has a big hill in the middle. The Princeton course was pretty flat and
I tend to do better on hills.”
For Coates, it was all about the experience, and competing against some of the most prestigious schools in North America: “It was exciting to race big name schools like Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia, and we’re pretty happy that we were able to place second amongst them.”
Helping Coates to pave the way for the Marauders included stand-out rookie Madeleine McDonald, who beat out hundreds of seniors, finishing 7th overall at the Loyola Invitational and 3rd overall at Princeton.

Rounding out the score at the Loyola Invitational included Jill Wyman in 15th, Steph MacNeill in 37th, Chelsea Mackinnon in 44th, Pauline Skowron in 88th and Claire Stewart in 96th. At the Princeton Invitational, Victoria Coates was 2nd, Madeleine McDonald was 3rd, Jill Wyman was 16th, Steph Macneill was 18th and Chelsea Mackinnon was 78th.
On the men’s side, Lionel Sanders finished 10th overall at Loyola followed by top recruit Connor Darlington in 13th, Taylor Forbes in 38th, Blair Morgan in 47th, Ryan Tice in 75th, Austen Forbes in 82nd and Keenan Viney in 83rd. The sixth place finish was an impressive feat, but for Captain Jeremy Walsh, the Vic Matthews Open in Guelph is an important meet to size up the competition.
“Racing the familiar faces prior to championship season gives us a good idea where we sit in the standings and who to key off in the more important races,” he said.
The familiar faces gave the men an extra push at the Vic Matthews Open, where they finished fifth overall in a pack run, with Connor Darlington in 22nd, Taylor Forbes in 25th, Taylor Reid in 26th, Jordan Bierema in 31st, Lionel Sanders in 33rd, Blair Morgan in 39th and Austen Forbes in 40th.
The other half of the girls team at the Vic Matthews Open finished fourth overall, with veteran Lindsay Carson winning the race, followed by Courtney Patterson in 9th, Pauline Skowron in 26th, Laura Morrison in 34th, Raquel Burgess in 44th, and Claire Stewart in 48th.
The next meet on the Marauder’s horizon is the OUA Championships in King City, where both teams hope to perform at their best with the top seven runners on the line from the men and women’s team.
This meet will be a preview for the CIS Championships on November 10th in London, Ont. where the men’s team will strive for a top five finish overall, and the women’s team will strive to overtake last year’s CIS Champions, the Guelph Gryphons.

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