by Duncan Forbes
It was another banner season for the Tigers women’s cross country team as they won their second consecutive AUS championship. It was the fourth championship in the last five years for the Tigers.
At their first race of the year in Wolfville, all seven Tigers runners finished in the top 12 as they came away with a 22 point first-place finish. Ellen Chappell finished almost 30 seconds ahead of the competition to come in first, while Colleen Wilson finished in third. Britany MacArthur, Emily Clarke, Kayte Kowal and Maddy Crowell all finished consecutively, in fifth through eighth place.
The next weekend, the Tigers travelled to Fredericton to compete in the UNB/STU and Guelph invitationals. Ellen Chappell led the Tigers in Guelph with a ninth place finish, followed closely behind by Colleen Wilson in 12th. At the UNB/STU meet, the Tigers finished in second place, just ten points behind the host Varsity Reds. Britany MacArthur led all Tigers runners with a fourth-place finish, while Kayte Kowal and Jenna MacDonald rounded out the top-ten for the Tigers with seventh and eighth place finishes, respectively.
After posting yet another win at the Moncton Invitational on the first weekend of October, the Tigers headed to Antigonish for the StFX AUS-RSEQ Interlock Invitational, where they got their second taste of competition outside the AUS.
Ellen Chappell placed third, while Britany MacArthur and Maddy Crowell finished ninth and tenth, but the Tigers finished just short of first overall, settling for second by a mere six points to Laval.
Heading into the AUS championship at Point Pleasant Park, the Tigers morale was sky-high. They blew out the competition as Ellen Chappell, Colleen Wilson, Britany MacArthur and Maddy Crowell finished first, second, third and fourth as the Tigers grabbed seven of the top 10 spots. At the end of the day, it wasn’t even close as the Tigers posted just 16 points, 43 points ahead of their closest competitor.
Chappell was named the AUS female athlete of the year for her stellar performance, while head coach Rich Lehman was named the AUS coach of the year.
The Tigers then headed to Newfoundland to compete in the CIS championship at Memorial University. In what Coach Lehman called a ‘phenomenal performance’, Emily Clarke led all Tigers runners with a 30th place finish as they came in eighth in the country. Ellen Chappell was the next Tiger across the line, finishing in 37th. Britany MacArthur and Maddy Crowell weren’t far behind in 39th and 40th, respectively, while Emily Ferguson came in 43rd.
“We have one of the deepest teams in the country (only Guelph put all five scorers across the line before us), but we really need to step up at the front of the race and have someone competing for those all-Canadian spots,” explains Lehman. “We were within striking distance of a medal but just didn’t have the fire power up front on the day.”
The team’s depth was a big factor all year, and Lehman says that he was surprised at how hard everyone on the team worked.
“We had two huge surprises this year with Kayte Kowal and Jenna MacDonald being our 7th and 8th runners after barely cracking the varsity roster last year,” says Lehman. “They both have worked very hard to get where they are and we’re expecting them to have a huge impact in the coming years.”