By: Kirk Jessome
It has been another year of success so far for the Tigers women’s cross country team, as they were able to claim their sixth consecutive AUS championship banner.
The group was led all year by senior Michelle Reddy who returned for her fifth and final season with the Tigers, followed closely behind by last season’s U SPORTS rookie of the year, Savanna Jordan.
At the biggest warmup meet of the season before the conference championship, the Tigers took part in the Marauder Bayfront Open in Hamilton, Ontario to become comfortable racing against the tough competition of the OUA.
The Tigers not only became comfortable against the top competition in that race, but they were able to come out on top with an overall first-place team finish with Reddy and Jordan finishing a respective second and third. Also having a strong finish was fifth-year transfer student Sophie Watts who crossed the line in seventh place.
The results of that meet stood out nationally, and as a result the team was ranked at #4 on the U SPORTS Top 10 throughout the season going into the conference championships.
At the AUS conference championship, the story was no different. Reddy and Jordan finished first and second respectively, with Watts just off the podium in fourth place.
The rest of the Tigers were able to round out the top 20, with rookie Georgia Waller having a nice finish in 13th, while fifth year Ellen Chappell, Jessica Needham and Olivia Ross not far behind.
The Tigers claimed their sixth-consecutive AUS championship banner, with Reddy being named the AUS athlete of the year. Tigers head coach Rich Lehman was named the AUS coach of the year on the women’s side, and in his opinion, that top-five ranking is exactly where they could be.
“We’re still in the same spot we were at the start of the year,” says Lehman. “Our front end can run with anyone, so if we get a big race from Georgia, Ellen, Jess or Olivia, we will be in the hunt for a top-five finish.”
On the men’s side, it was a fairly young group on the trails for the Tigers this season with only three seniors on the roster. Fifth-year Angus MacIntosh returned for his final season with the Tigers, while Michael Rogers and Callum Drever raced in their fourth seasons.
At the AUS conference championship, James Cromack was the top finisher for the Tigers crossing the line in sixth place. UK exchange student Bryn Smith finished behind Cromack in eighth, followed by Callum Drever in ninth.
It was almost the opposite story for the men’s team this season, with a strong core all finishing in the top-15 at the conference championship, they were just missing the top-end runners they’ve had in previous years.
The Tigers finished in second-place overall as a team at the AUS championships in a very close competition against StFX, who reclaimed the banner after the Tigers brought it home last season.
The national championships take place this Saturday at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.