Guelph sweeps national titles


Michel Belanger

The University of Guelph Gryphons resumed their domination at the CIS cross country championships on the snow-covered Plains of Abraham in Quebec City as they once again claimed both the women’s and men’s team banners, while Geneviève Lalonde and Andrew Nixon won the individual gold medals, on Saturday afternoon.

It marked the seventh consecutive national title for the Guelph women and the sixth straight for their male teammates, both CIS records. The Gryphons have now captured 19 total team banners, also a CIS mark, six more than Victoria.

In the women’s five-kilometre event, the Gryphons placed five runners in the top 10 to finish with 31 points. Lalonde, who hails from Moncton, N.B., overtook Tamara Jewett of the Toronto Varsity Blues late in the race to cross the finish line in 18 minutes (18:00.04), seven seconds ahead of the Toronto native (18:07.09). Ellen Pennock of Calgary, running for the Victoria Vikes, rounded out the podium with a time of 18:14.02.

Victoria was second in the team standings with 87 points and McMaster third with 134.

“My strategy was to give everything I had from start to finish, and obviously help the team win another title,” said Lalonde, who avenged a second-place finish to Jewett at the OUA championships. “I love running here. It was slippery today because of the snow, but it’s such a beautiful setting.”

“Geneviève is so solid. We knew Tamara (Jewett) was very talented and fast, so Geneviève had to stay close the entire race if she wanted to have a shot at winning gold,” said Guelph head coach Dave Scott-Thomas, once again named the CIS coach of the year.

The Gryphons did even better on the men’s side with five runners among the seven fastest, including a 1-2 finish, for a championship-low 20 points. After capturing the OUA title two weeks ago, Andrew Nixon of Burlington, Ont., won the 10km CIS race in 31:42.8, six seconds faster than teammate Alex Genest of Lac-aux-Sables, Que. (31:48.6). Matt Walters of North Bay, Ont., claimed bronze for the Windsor Lancers in 31:53.8.

In the team standings, Windsor placed second with 49 points, ahead of Victoria (82).

Scott-Thomas was of course very happy with his teams’ results.

“We have a lot of respect for the other universities and the level of competition is very high. Before the races, we made sure everyone understood their role. Once it looked like we had secured the team titles, they all gave everything they had to improve their individual rankings.”

Like most runners, male gold medallist Nixon commented that the field was “very slippery and challenging”, adding that he was very pleased with the individual and team titles.

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