Banner Season: Stafford chases down MacDougalls for individual gold, as Queen's three-peats as team champs

Photo by Rick Zazulak
Photo by Rick Zazulak

Hamilton, Ont. (via McMaster Marauders) - The characters on the women’s podium at the 2019 OUA Cross Country Championships were in no doubt within the opening minutes of the eight kilometre race. But watching where exactly the three of them would be placed by the event’s end proved an absorbing, and ultimately dramatic exercise Saturday.

Charging away from the pack early and battling amongst themselves for much of their half-hour-long run at Hamilton’s Bayfront Park, the trio of Toronto’s Lucia Stafford and Queen’s sisters Branna and Brogan MacDougall comprised the top three individually, while the Gaels helped their team to a third consecutive conference banner.

Racing in her first cross country event of the season, Stafford was able to stick with the MacDougalls early and make her decisive move in the final two kilometres to snatch the title by a six-second margin in a time of 27:20.2.

The elder of the Gaels sisters, Branna followed in 27:26.9 to claim silver, while the defending OUA champion and Rookie of the Year Brogan took bronze in 28:01.5.

While their disappointment in missing individual gold was palpable at race’s end, the MacDougalls’ efforts helped Queen’s handily take their eponymous Queen’s Cup trophy and OUA championship banner for a third consecutive season. The Gaels scored a blistering 37 points to outpace their nearest competitors, the silver-medal-winning Guelph Gryphons, by a full 20 points.

Kara Blair (fourth), Marley Beckett (11th) and Tori Bouck (17th) rounded out the scoring for the Gaels, with Blair joining the MacDougalls among the OUA First Team All-Stars and Beckett cracking the Second Team. With his team earning the title for a third consecutive season, Queen’s coach Steve Boyd was named as the OUA Coach of the Year for the third time.

Guelph’s silver medal was the just reward for an exceptional pack run, which saw the Gryphons five scorers all cross the finish line between sixth and 15th. Veteran Hannah Woodhouse led the way in the sixth spot to gain First Team status, while Kiana Gibson (10th), Cameron Ormond (12th) and Sadie-Jane Hickson (14th) were all named to the Second Team.

For the Varsity Blues, Stafford’s heroics propelled them back onto the conference podium after a fifth-placed finish a season ago. Toronto out-performed its pre-event ranking as the nation’s no. 8 seed and the fourth-ranked OUA team, easily topping fourth-placed Western by 32 points.

Katherine Lampard crucially provided a second top-10 score for the Blues by crossing the line eighth, and earned a Second Team spot as a result, while Jazz Shukla (18th), Christiana Agustin (25th) and Tanis Bolton (26th) completed Toronto’s scoring.

The top scoring first-year runner on the morning was Waterloo’s Isabella Thornton-Bott, who finished fifth in a time of 28:26.1 and was named as the OUA Rookie of the Year as a result.

2019 OUA Women’s Cross Country Team Standings

1          Queen's Gaels                        37 points

2          Guelph Gryphons                   57 points

3          Toronto Varsity Blues             76 points

4          Western Mustangs                  108 points

5          McMaster Marauders             165 points

6          Waterloo Warriors                   170 points

7          Windsor Lancers                     179 points

8          Laurier Golden Hawks            200 points

9          Nipissing Lakers                      269 points

10        York Lions                               289 points

11        Ryerson Rams                        306 points

12        Laurentian Voyaguers             327 points

2019 OUA Women’s Cross Country Major Awards

MVP: Lucia Stafford - Toronto

Coach of the Year: Steve Boyd - Queen’s

Rookie of the Year: Isabella Thornton-Bott - Waterloo

Community Service Award: Kiana Gibson - Guelph

2019 OUA Women’s Cross Country All-Stars

First Team

Lucia Stafford - Toronto

Branna MacDougall - Queen’s

Brogan MacDougall - Queen’s

Kara Blair - Queen’s

Isabella Thornton-Bott - Waterloo

Hannah Woodhouse - Guelph

Kate Current - Western

Second Team

Katherine Lampard - Toronto

Lizzy Laurie - Laurier

Kiana Gibson - Guelph

Marley Beckett - Queen’s

Cameron Ormond - Guelph

Sydney Pattison - Laurier

Sadie-Jane Hickson - Guelph

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