Marauders set to host OUA cross country championship

Marauders set to host OUA cross country championship
HAMILTON, Ont. – The top-ranked Guelph Gryphons men’s and women’s cross country teams are looking for their ninth and 10th consecutive team banners at the OUA championship on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Chedoke Golf Course in Hamilton, Ont.

On the men’s side, the Gryphons return all four of their first team all-stars from a year ago as Ross Proudfoot (Sudbury, Ont.), Yves Sikubwabo (Ottawa, Ont.), Andrew Nixon (Thunder Bay, Ont.) and Aaron Hendrikx (Parkhill, Ont.) will run in the championship. The Gryphons had another stellar season, winning a number of meets, including the prestigious Greater Louisville Classic against NCAA Division I competition. Former triathlete Tristan Woodfine (Cobden, Ont.) has clocked some impressive times for the Gryphs in his rookie campaign.

The men’s national rankings are dominated by OUA teams. Besides the Gryphs, five of the top 10 ranked teams reside in Ontario. 

The Windsor Lancers are tied for third place in the national rankings and took home team silver at the 2012 championship. The Lancers lost three-time OUA all-star Matthew Walters to graduation this year, but Nick Falk (Windsor, Ont.) and Paul Janikowski (La Salle, Ont.) are on the course to pick up the slack. Janikowski sat out the 2012 season due to injury but is back in action and is aiming for a top five individual finish.

The No. 5 Queen’s Gaels took home team bronze the past two seasons and rely on the speed of fourth-year Kingston native, and 2012 second team all-star, Jeff Archer.  Archer and his Gaels teammates claimed the top spot at their home meet, the Queen’s Invitational, in September.

Third-year Lionel Sanders (Hamilton, Ont.) and Taylor Reid (Terra Cotta, Ont.) lead a fairly deep No. 6 McMaster squad. Both received all-star designation a year ago, as Sanders finished fifth this season at the competitive Vic Matthews Open and Reid was the ninth runner to cross the line at the AUS RSEQ Interlock in early October.

The Thunderwolves clocked a surprising fifth place finish at last year’s championship. Dominique Aulagnon (Thunder Bay, Ont.), Travis Roske (Regina, Sask.) and Kevin Tree (New Tecumseth, Ont.) finished in the top 50 at the 2012 championship and lead the seventh-ranked squad. Dylan Brown, a 2012 first team all-star, will not lace up for the T-Wolves on Saturday.

Rounding out the OUA’s presence in the top 10 rankings is the Western University Mustangs in the tenth spot. The Mustangs finished in sixth place at the 2012 OUA championship and host the CIS finals on Nov. 9 at Thames Valley Golf Course in London, Ont.

Like their male counterparts, the Guelph Gryphons are a heavy favourite heading into Saturday’s championship. Six Gryphs finished in the top ten at last year’s championship and four of them are running on Saturday. Last year’s MVP Genevieve Lalonde (Moncton, N.B.) placed fourth both the Greater Louisville Classic and third at the Vic Matthews Open. Fellow all-stars Madeline Yungblut (Wroxeter, Ont.), Carise Thompson (Orkney, Ont.) and Joanna Brown (Carp, Ont.) had strong 2013 seasons and are expected to finish at the head of the pack.

The Queen’s Gaels are strong contenders at this year’s OUA championship and enter the field ranked No. 2 in the country. Victoria Coates (Newmarket, Ont.) took home a silver medal last year with the McMaster Marauders but will don a tri-coloured singlet on Saturday. Second-year Julie-Anne Staehlhi (Lucknow, Ont.) finished first at a recent Interlock meet in Montreal and is one to watch on Saturday. She finished sixth at last year’s competition and her rookie performance was second to Guelph’s Yungblut. Aside from veteran Coates, the Gaels boast a young squad which should remain strong for years to come.

The Mustangs finished in third at last year’s championship and enter the 2013 competition in that same spot. The hosts earned team gold at the Western Invitational in late September and followed that up with a strong third place showing at the Vic Matthews Open in Guelph a week later. All-star Amanda Truelove (Barrie, Ont.) was the top performer for the ‘Stangs this season and will compete alongside a veteran Mustangs squad.

The Toronto Varsity Blues head into the championship fifth in the CIS top ten rankings. Blues women ran solid races at the Western Invitational with fourth-year Oakville, Ont. native Colleen Hennessy finishing fifth, followed by her sister, Kelly Hennessy, in seventh. The Blues are looking to improve upon their eighth place finish from a year ago.

McMaster all-stars Maddy McDonald (Toronto) and Courtney Patterson (Dundas, Ont.) hope to make use of home advantage at this year’s championship. McDonald reached the podium at the AUS RSEQ Interlock meet and is expected to be the top finished for the Marauders.

Other teams participating in this weekend’s championship include Algoma, Brock, Laurentian, Laurier, Nipissing, Ottawa, Trent, Waterloo, and York. Action gets under way on Saturday at noon. with the running of the women’s 5km race. The men will take to the line for a 1 p.m. start of the 10km race.