By Kirk Jessome
The men’s and women’s cross country teams are returning to the trails after very successful seasons last year. The defending conference champions, they have the opportunity to repeat that success on home turf when they host the AUS conference championships this fall.
The women’s team features U SPORTS rookie of the year Savanna Jordan, who was both the AUS MVP and rookie of the year last season. She earned second team All-Canadian status last season after a 12th place finish at the national championship.
Back for their fifth and final seasons are AUS all-stars Michelle Reddy and Ellen Chappell. The 2014 AUS MVP, Chappell returns to the roster after a three-year hiatus.
Joining them is transfer, Sophie Watts, who is a graduate student using her fifth-year of eligibility with the Tigers after four seasons with the University of Guelph along with Richmond Hill, Ontario native, Georgia Waller, who is looking to make an impact in her first year with the black and gold.
“Our women’s team is as strong at the front end as they’ve been since I’ve been involved in the program,” says Lehman. “If we’re able to execute come championship season, I believe we’re a top-five team in the country.”
After losing fifth-year athletes, Cal DeWolfe and Will Russell, the men’s side still has no shortage of veteran runners. Leading the way is Angus MacIntosh who was very consistent last season and finished inside the top 10 at the conference championships.
Joining MacIntyre is second-year runner Hudson Grimshaw-Surrette who is coming off of a top-10 performance in the 1000m event at the U SPORTS track and field championships last season, and Bryn Smith, a runner joining the Tigers on exchange from England.
Head coach Rich Lehman says that the men’s team is as deep as it’s ever been, and that could only serve to benefit them.
“We’ve got seven guys who could all legitimately claim to be our top runner, and that depth should help us in championship races against a very front-loaded StFX team, and a young and talented Saint Mary’s.”
The teams open their season with the first race taking place at the UPEI Invitational this Saturday, but the highlight of the season will be the Tigers hosting the AUS championships, and defending both of the titles at home next month in Point Pleasant Park.
“We’re very excited to defend both our titles at home this year,” continues Lehman, “Both teams have the ability to repeat as conference champions, and with all seven runners showing up on the day of the championship, can be a presence at a national level.”