C/O Steve Moran
Excellent performances by the Marauders lead to podium finishes at the Western Invitational
McMaster’s cross country teams kicked off their season with a dominant outing at the Vigars & Salter Western Invitational. At their first race of the year, the men and women’s teams showed out, finishing first and third respectively at their eight kilometre run events.
Similar to golf, the team with the lowest score in a cross country meet wins. Teams require a minimum of at least five runners in order to be officially scored and corresponding point values are assigned based on their standings. The top seven runners on a team are able to affect a team’s results, with the first five contributing to the total score and the latter two acting as displacers to push back opposing runners’ ranks.
After coming in third at the event in 2021, the men’s team battled their way to claim the top spot in this year’s London showdown.
Max Turek — winner of the OUA bronze medal at last year’s championship eight kilometre race — finished third overall with a time of 24:34. Ending 18 seconds after Turek, Alex Drover placed fifth for the team, allowing both individuals to claim the leading two scores among qualified varsity runners.
Other standouts for the men include Sam Nusselder and Dylan Alick, who grabbed the fifth and eighth best times respectively in the university grouping.
The men’s team completed the meet with a score of 47, beating out the Western Mustangs who managed a total of 69 on their home grounds. Praising their overall performance, Drover viewed the event as a good indication of what the team has in-store for the rest of the season.
“I think we showed that we have a strong, deep team. We had a lot of runners out and everyone was performing well. It is early in the season but I think it was a race that set a good foundation for us to move forward from,” said Drover.
As for the women’s team, they placed third in their run, collecting 69 points at the competition. Leading McMaster with her time of 30:03, Hannah Goodjohn came third among university runners and seventh in the race overall. Sliding into sixth for the varsity group, Rosalyn Barrett completed the race in 30:20 to give the team two top-ten finishers altogether.
“I think going into it we had some really big competition, just some strong teams there. Guelph is a very, very strong team, same with Laval. . . it was a really exciting race,” said Barrett.
True to her word, both schools took commanding presences on the leaderboard. Aided by gold and silver finishes from athletes Jade Bérubé and Florence Caron, Laval’s Rouge et Or ended the meet in second with 54 points. Despite their efforts, the Guelph Gryphons managed to pull ahead of the pack, backed by five, top-12 placing runners and a leading score of 44.
The Marauders took on their second meet of the year on Oct. 1 at the Don Mills Open in Waterloo. Primarily featuring runners who have yet to compete this year, both the men and women’s teams rested the majority of athletes who participated at the Western Invitational.
Approximately two weeks later the team will make their Hamilton homecoming on Oct. 14 for the Marauder Bayfront Open, in preparation for the OUA and U Sports championships. Given their success early in the season, they look to be tough competitors up until the season’s end.
By Graham West
At their most recent cross-country meet, the Western Invitational, Josh McGillivray led the team to a second-overall finish, placing third individually. McGillivray, who led the field for McMaster for the first time in his career, said he treated this race differently than his past competitions, going in with a mindset to start at the front of the pack and staying there.
Top 10 Tuesday -- The Marauders men's cross country team strengthened its hold on the no. 2 spot, while @MacRugby fell to 10 in the @USPORTSca rankings. #GoMacGohttps://t.co/qwikz6mgIy
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) October 2, 2018
Clearly it worked as he had a career day, enough to get him named Pita Pit Athlete of the Week. He finished the 8 km course in an astonishing 24:20, and McGillivray thinks he will keep this week’s new strategy going forward to see if it will continue to work, but he will not change everything in his race-day preparations.
Cross-country is more of a mental sport than most people would realize, far more than most would consider it to be at first glance. There are so many people you are directly competing with that it can certainly take a toll mentally on a runner, constantly checking what place you are in, al the while to continuing to push yourself.
McGillivray highlighted the fact that with lengthy races, you are constantly pushing yourself to keep running as hard as you can, and this is where a lot of strength and grit comes in. The third-year runner also noted that preparation for cross-country meets is always very thorough. He said that making sure to get a good sleep, not only the night before but two nights before, can be instrumental to his success in addition to eating properly.
Even though you run individually, McGillivray emphasized that cross-country really is a team sport. Although you run by yourself during the races the sense of community really prevails, and that traditional sense of team chemistry is still very present.
For example, several Mac runners who were not even participating in the track meet because they had already run in a previous race came to cheer on their teammates who were competing. McGillivray said this is one of the tightest groups of guys he can remember, which allows them to be their best selves athletically as they continue to push each other.
“I’m surrounded by an incredible group of guys every single day and we kind of suffer through together,” said McGillivray. “We work hard, we all do the workouts. I think it was me on that given day that was leading the team, but I think our team is strong enough and deep enough that on any given day, anyone of us could be at the head of the group”
McGillivray highlighted the importance of staying cool and not overworking oneself, something he credits his coach, Paula Schnurr, for being very good at. He also stressed the importance that even though it can be really easy to go too hard, cross-country nationals is still a month and a half a way so it’s important for the athletes to pace themselves throughout the season.
“I think that the depth of this team, although we have had really deep teams the past few years, we’ve come fourth consecutively in the past five years now at nationals, but this year and the depth of this team is pretty insane,” McGillivray explained.
McGillivray believes that this could be the year the team breaks recent tradition and places on the podium at nationals.
“On any given day, because you have your top five scorers and then your top seven are considered your team because you have two alternates, I don’t think we'll have the same top seven in a consecutive race all season,” McGillivray said.
While there is still a long time before the team transitions to the indoor track season, the start to this year looks promising. With a roster that looks better than ever, a very clear drive and determination to succeed, the men’s cross-country team has nationals in sight and look poised to buck the trend of placing fourth for the past five years.