Mac on the mark for OUA Championships
With just two weeks remaining before the OUA championships, the Marauder cross country team will have one more tune up race before taking on the best runners in the province.
The Maroon and Grey squad will lace up their spikes as they toe off against the best runners to the east in the Quebec Student Sport Federation/Atlantic University Sport meet in Montreal this coming weekend.
“The team raced at the McGill Open about 5-6 years ago but this is the first time doing the QSSF/AUS Interlock” said head coach Rory Sneyd.
The Marauders have never competed in any other conference in Canada before, and this will be their first time this season to get a sneak-peak at some of the talented runners from the east-coast, some of whom will also be in London, Ont. on Nov. 9 at the CIS Cross Country Championships.
“We are actually party-crashers coming from the OUA. We felt that we wanted to see our athletes perform two weeks before the OUA Championships so we can make the best decisions in terms of who we put on the line on October 26th ” added Sneyd.
The upcoming race on Oct. 12 will serve as a test; a last try-out before the coaches make a collective decision as to who will be among the top seven runners on the start line for the men’s and women’s side for the OUA Championships in Hamilton.
Although the team has only competed in two races so far, Coach Sneyd has given credit to the determined runners on the team that continue to impress in races, and are consistently running great times.
“Blair Morgan is very consistent. He was our first runner at Western and was our third behind Lionel and Taylor Forbes at Guelph,” said Sneyd of the men’s captain.
As for the women’s side, there are two runners that stand out in Sneyd’s mind as being spot on in both races and workouts.
“Emily Nowak and Kierstin Myers have been good in both the races. I think they were a tad better at Western than they were at Guelph but it seems as though they are pretty steady” added Sneyd.
On the women’s side, Sneyd gave Maddy McDonald credit for her performance amongst some of the best runners in the country.
“Maddy was duking it out with some athletes who had already raced a few times or had done some harder workouts to ‘sharpen up’ slightly. Maddy's focus is on being fantastic at the championships and I think she started off at a great point” said Sneyd on the Junior Pan Am Games silver medal recipient.
On the men’s side, Sneyd was impressed with Sanders and Forbes, two triathletes that worked their way up through the pack multiple times in the 10km race
“Lionel went out a bit too hard but showed some nice grit holding it together on a rough third lap. He was actually closing on people on the fourth and final lap. Taylor ran really controlled and there is more there. We think he can be a really dangerous competitor when the championships roll around” added Sneyd.
When the championships do come around, the Marauders team will show their full potential – something they have not done all season.
“We have not shown all our cards on the men's side but I think most people out there are aware that we have Connor Darlington and Taylor Reid waiting in the wings” said Sneyd on the strong runners
On the women’s side, the two top runners on the team have not ran in the same race yet.
“We have yet to run Maddy McDonald and Courtney Patterson in the same race. I think the rankings are fair based on what the teams have shown thus far” added Sneyd.
Given the potential the team has going into the OUA Championships, Sneyd still acknowledges that there is quite a bit that the team still needs to work on in order to peak at the very competitive race.
“They've been working together fairly well in races but I think this is something that can be improved” said Sneyd.
“You never want to run your teammates' race instead of your own but if you can find each other out there and help each other, that's obviously going to help the team score”
The team will have to look to adopt this strategy at the OUA Championships, as the meet next week will not showcase the entire marauders squad, with Sanders for the men, and Kierstin Myers, Charlotte Ward, Phoebe Cseresnyes and Chelsea Mackinnon all out of the lineup this Saturday.
After this weekend the team will turn their focus to the upcoming OUA championships, being run on home turf in Hamilton.