By Kirk Jessome
It was another season of success for the women’s cross country team as they brought home their fifth-consecutive AUS championship en route to a 13th place finish at the U SPORTS national championship.
The young roster was led by highly-touted newcomer Savanna Jordan, coming off of a youth national championship victory last season. Jordan was the top finisher for the Tigers in every race she entered this season, including a fifth-place finish at the AUS/RESQ interlock race.
Right behind Jordan was fourth-year Michelle Reddy, who put together an incredible comeback season after being sidelined with injury last year. Reddy also started her season well with a first place finish at the first meet of the year.
AUS coach of the year winner Rich Lehman gives perspective on the accomplishment of not only coming back from the injury, but performing at such a high level afterward.
“We’re very fortunate that Michelle was able to come back and run for us this season,” says Lehman. “The injury that she went through has a high retirement rate, so for her to come back and run the way she has is incredible.”
The Tigers went into the AUS championship as the clear favourite to repeat as champions with Jordan and Reddy performing as the top two runners in the conference so far in the season. To Lehman, their previous winning experience could only help his group heading into the conference meet.
“Five of our seven runners were returning athletes for us, and those runners are the only women in the conference that know what it takes to win a conference championship. Combine that with one of the best runners in the country as a first year and it’s a recipe for success.”
It was indeed a success for the Tigers, earning the top two podium spots, as well as two more runners finishing in the top 10 at the championship.
Jordan took the victory by nearly a full minute over teammate Reddy, earning her the AUS MVP and rookie of the year title. Rounding out the top 10 for the Tigers were Jenna MacDonald and Shaylynn Tell in seventh and ninth, respectively.
At the U SPORTS championship Jordan once again led the Tigers with a 12th place finish in a season-best time of 28:54.72 in the race. She earned U SPORTS second team all-Canadian status as a result and was named the U SPORTS rookie of the year.
Reddy was the second-place finisher for the Tigers crossing the line 45th with a time of 30:33.56, helping her team to their 13th place finish at the meet.
With the potential for the entire roster to return next season, the extra season of development will help the Tigers continue their winning ways in the conference, and push into the top 10 nationally.