Photo c/o Zack Jones
The cornerstone of most championship teams is strong depth and players that can be subbed in who will deliver a great performance. This is especially true for the men’s cross country team, led by veteran runner Sergio Raez-Villanueva. With a bevvy of talented players on the roster, the team’s potential is sky high.
At their first meet of the year in Buffalo, the Marauders sat most of their veteran players to give them rest in preparation for a meet which took place this past weekend on the 21. This allowed many of the younger runners a chance to shine, which they most certainly did.
“Veterans and rookies alike, we always say at the end of the day once you’re on the start line it’s all up to you. Sometimes the veteran doesn’t have a good day but the rookie steps up and really helps. We’ve seen that happen before, never count the rookies out or anyone for that matter. It really comes down to how people are feeling and we help each other as a team and that’s why we’re a team in cross country,” said Raez-Villanueva, star of the cross country team.
Placing second overall at the meet, standout players like the aforementioned Raez-Villanueva, Sam Nusselder and Taylor Cornwall posted the top three finishes for McMaster at the Buffalo meet. All together their depth helped them place second overall and only one point behind the hosts, the University of Buffalo Bulls.
“Sometimes people aren’t having a good day and sometimes where it matters you can’t do it for some reason or another, maybe you’re a little sick but then there’s someone else who can take that charge and what’s nice about this team is that we have that depth that when someone is not feeling that well there’s someone who can take charge and help us get back to the place that we need to be in,” Raez-Villanueva added.
Their depth has gained recognition at the national level as they are ranked first in the country, after previously being ranked third at the start of the season. Even though this is very high praise, it is not something the team chooses to focus on.
“You never want to get too confident with rankings and such we don’t want to get into our heads. Within ourselves we always talk, the rank is just there for show sometimes. Sometimes it’ll tell you you’re doing worse some days better but in the end, we’re always training hard, we’re always putting in our best effort it doesn’t matter what they’re saying out there or what people are predicting,” Raez-Villanueva added.
The marauders look to build off a highly successful season last year where they graced the U sports championship podium for the first time in six years. They also got gold for the first time since 1964 at the Ontario University athletics championships last year. All together the cross country team is looking to repeat and have another historic season this year.