C/O McMaster Sports

As the Cross Country season ends, there is a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to

Over the past couple of months, the cross country and track teams have been finding significant success through several points in their season. Previously, Alex Drover, a fourth-year cross country veteran, won the first Athlete of the Week award of the season in recognition of his exceptional performance at an Ontario University Athletics competition, where he placed first overall.

On Nov. 20, the cross country team took part in the nationwide U Sports Cross Country/Track Nationals. This year, the event took place in Quebec City, at the historic Plains of Abraham. The competition featured numerous turns and hills, which made the race very challenging for the schools involved. 

Throughout the Cross Country Nationals, the best performer for the McMaster Marauders was Andrew Davies. Davies finished just short of fourth place in the men's eight kilometre race, with an impressive time of 24:38, which had him 10.5 seconds off the winner of the race, Mitchell Ubene, of the Guelph Gryphons. 

Although Davies did miss out on the podium for the 8k race, he did not miss the chance to end up at the podium with the rest of the team, as the Marauders ended up third on the podium, earning themselves a bronze medal with a collective score of 79 points. The only schools to place above the Marauders were the hosts, Université Laval Rouge et Or and Guelph Gryphons, finishing first and second respectively

Davies, the best runner among the Marauders at the nationals, and his teammate, Max Turek, were both awarded an All-Canadian Bid for their amazing performances in Quebec. 

Although the overall results of the Marauders were impressive, Davies did express some level of disappointment with the final results. 

“Although we did make the podium, I can’t say that I was particularly happy with our performance as a whole. I personally think that we could have won the whole nationals. We definitely have the potential to do so, but it just wasn't our day,” said Davies. 

When asked about his achievement of earning an All-Canadian bid, Davies suggested that he expected to win it based on his strong performance in the race. 

“I sort of knew that I was going to get it because I was near the top in the first team. My personal performance was good that day so I saw it coming. Obviously, I am honored to get something like this and it does mean a lot to me,” said Davies. 

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the runner and his ability to train were mixed. The lockdowns had both physical and mental impacts and changed the way he trained and performed later on. 

“To be honest, COVID-19 did not have a massive training effect on me. I was still able to train alone, since we are runners and we don't need partners to do so. If anything, it did sort of help me physically stay in shape because there was no pressure of any race coming up, so I had more time to prepare for whatever was coming next,” explained Davies. 

However, Davies did state that the pandemic did have a toll on his mental wellbeing and created a lot of difficulty for his training and mental preparation. 

“It was a very rough period for all of us because there was consistent cancellation of events every now and then and it was tough for us to keep up. I personally did not know when to expect any competitions to come back and it was all on one big loop for a year and a half. Especially in the winter, there was literally nothing going on and it had a huge toll on me,” 

Andrew Davies

When asked about the future, Davies explained he is certain that there is much more potential within the team and that they could return even stronger next year. 

“I think that we can do even better next season. Although some of our runners won't be eligible, many of our best athletes will be staying for another year. There are also some younger runners who have a lot of potential. So, I see us excelling over the next couple of years for sure,” said Davies. 

Although the nationals are over for this year, there will be plenty of opportunities for the track and cross country athletes to show their worth next year, when the new season will bring plenty of excitement for all involved. 

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