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The Western Mustangs cross country team braved the wind and rain on Saturday as both the women's and men's squads competed in the Ontario University Athletics championships.

The weather showed no mercy for the runners, as cold winds and drizzling rain made Thames Valley Golf Course a formidable challenge. Although it was less than ideal, the women’s team was able to pull off a third-place team finish, while the men’s team finished in fifth.

“The weather made the conditions tough," said women's team captain Kristina Popadich on Western's performance. "The course was muddier and a lot of people struggled to get good footing; however, at the end of the day everyone is racing in the same conditions and going through it together so you are not at a disadvantage.” 

The women’s race kicked off the day, starting at 11 a.m. The Mustangs finished the race with a collective score of 105, earning them the bronze spot, behind the Queen's Gaels and the Guelph Gryphons. Popadich led the Mustangs with a third place individual finish, earning herself a spot on the podium. She was followed by Kate Currant in 13th place, Zoe Burke in 21st place, Breanna Faiczak in 33rd place and Lauren Kanko in 35th place.

The men’s race followed the women's race, starting at 12 p.m. The Mustangs men’s team ended the day with an overall team score of 141. The team was led by Isiah Frielink who finished on the podium in third place, followed by Jack Sheffar in fifth place, Ben Carson in 34th place, Ethan Loucks in 49th place and Adam Clayton in 50th place.

With the meet being held in London, the Mustangs enjoyed their home turf advantage.

“It was amazing to have the meet at Western yesterday, especially because it was my first time racing on the Western team during a year where we hosted a championship meet,” said Popadich. “We had a ton of support from the community and from students at Western who came out to cheer us on.”

The next event for the Western cross country team will be the U Sports championships, which will be taking place in Kingston, Ontario, on November 1.

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