CIS

Gees finish strong at first cross-country meet of season

Photo credit: geegees.ca

The University of Ottawa’s cross-country teams kickstarted the season with a strong performance at the Hoffmann Invitational at St. Lawrence University in New York on Sept. 27.

The women’s team, in a close battle with the hosting St. Lawrence Saints, took second place overall, while the men’s team finished third.

“We are extremely happy with our team and individual results,” said Isabelle Kanz, a fourth-year student and three-time Gee-Gees MVP. “Everyone ran hard and really battled it out with the other teams.”

Finishing in fourth place in the six-kilometre course, Kanz accomplished a huge personal best with a time of 22 minutes 36.1 seconds. Katie Phillips was the first to cross the line for the Gee-Gees, taking second overall in the women’s division.

On the men’s side, second-year Alex Berhe led the garnet and grey with a time of 27 minutes 9.3 seconds. He finished 13th, clocking in just 10 seconds before the Gees’ Adrian Tsang.

“The team is looking the best it has in some number of years, both on the men’s and women’s side,” said Remy Binns, who studies at the U of O but now competes with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club.

Binns took the 11th spot, just ahead of Berhe and Tsang—a satisfying way to finish against his old team, he said. Having missed the Hoffmann meet in 2013, the Gee-Gees were excited to be able to take a run at it this year.

“We went down there looking for a challenge, and we got one,” said second-year criminology student Scott Hitchcox, who came in 33rd. “It was a hotter day than we would have liked, but the team did really well overall.”

Up next is the Hamilton College Invitational in Clinton, N.Y. on Oct. 11, where both the men’s and women’s teams ranked first in 2013. They’re hoping to carry that success into this weekend’s competition.

“At this point in the season we have already done a good portion of the hard work, so it’s all about making a few minor adjustments in strategy to be ready for the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship and hopefully Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) as well,” said Kanz.

Following the Hamilton College meet, the teams will be back at it for the OUA Championships at Queen’s University on Oct. 25. The women’s team’s goal at the OUA championships will be to qualify for the CIS championships, said Kanz, who ranked 37th at the nationwide competition last year.

“If everyone runs to their full potential, we can easily accomplish that,” she said.

The Gee-Gees have been training hard. Hitchcox said the team has been doing speed, hills, and strength-based training in preparation for a hilly OUA course. Kanz said they’ve also been focusing on staying healthy and injury-free.

“Top six at the provincial level gets us a spot at the nationals, so for both teams, that’s definitely the goal,” said Hitchcox.

Should the teams rank in the top six at the OUA, they could be heading to Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld. for nationals.

“It would be the first time for both teams that we ever qualified for nationals,” Hitchcox said. “So, we’re definitely hoping for the best.”