By Kirk Jessome
Looking to reclaim the AUS title in the 2019-20 season, the men’s cross country team balanced veteran leadership with young talent to take home their second conference banner in three seasons.
With Michael Rogers and Callum Drever in their fifth and final seasons, the veterans of the group took on the task of leading a young roster on the start line. That roster could have looked different at any given race, with sophomores Jonathan Goodridge and Nick Robertson having some impressive performances, as well newcomers Will Cox, Aidan Goslett and Daniel Rosen.
After the Tigers season opener was cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian touching down in Halifax, the team travelled to Antigonish for the StFX Cross Country Invitational for the first meet of the season.
The Tigers took home the team win by a narrow margin over the hosts thanks to a fourth-place finish from Jonathan Goodridge in his first race as a Tiger. Hudson Grimshaw-Surette had a strong performance to cross the line in sixth, with Jacob Halloran and Daniel Rosen finishing inside the top 10 in eighth and ninth respectively.
In the tune up for the conference championships, the Tigers took part in the AUS/RSEQ Interlock, hosted l’Université de Montréal where the team was once again battling against the X-Men to prove they were the top AUS squad.
This time, however, the team finished just six points behind the X-Men to come fourth overall. Similar to previous years, the Tigers showed great depth on the men’s side, with seven runners finishing within 16 places.
Nick Robertson had a great performance for the Tigers at the Interlock to cross the line in 27th, while rookie Will Cox finished right after him in 28th. Rounding out the squad for the Tigers were Jacob Halloran (31st), Jonathan Goodridge (34th), Callum Drever (35th) and Michael Rogers (38th), and Hudson Grimshaw-Surette (43rd).
Tigers head coach and AUS coach of the year, Rich Lehman noted that the depth on his team was something special.
“We were basically interchangeable from our top guy to our ninth guy all season, which is a level of depth that has probably never been seen before in our conference,” Lehman explained.
At the conference championship, that depth was able to shine once again. The Tigers claimed their second team title in three years despite not winning an individual medal in the race. All five of their point scorers did however finish in the top 10, crossing the line is succession sixth through 10th.
Goodridge and Grimshaw-Surette claimed the sixth and seventh spots to be named AUS all-stars. They were followed by Drever, Robertson, Rogers and Cox.
Even at the U SPORTS championship, the Tigers were still able to stay as a pack against the toughest competition. Third-year captain Hudson Grimshaw-Surette was the top finisher of the group, crossing the line in 68th, while Goodridge and Robertson were right behind him in 70th and 71st respectively to help lead the team to a 13th place finish.
With all five of the Tigers top scorers from the U SPORTS Championship returning next season, and many of them just in their first or second years of eligibility, Coach Lehman hopes to see his team make the necessary steps to be a national level threat for years to come.