The top runners in Canada came together at the U Sports National Championships in Kingston, Ontario.
The Mustangs women's cross country team claimed sixth place, while the men’s team placed 11th.
Captain Kate Current led the Mustangs, and finished fifth with the time of 28:19 in the eight-kilometre. Current improved her standings two spots from the Ontario University Athletics championships two weeks prior.
“Her goal was to put herself top 10 early on in the race and move up from there, and that is exactly what she did,” said head coach Guy Schultz. “She stayed in 7th place for most of the race until she took off with one kilometre left in the race.”
Current passed last year’s U Sports winner at the finish line to steal 5th place.
Every two years, Canada selects the top seven university runners at nationals to represent the country at the World University Cross Country Championships hosted by the International University Sports Federation. By finishing fifth, Current was able to guarantee her spot on the team that will go to Marrakech, Morocco next March.
With the track season approaching, Current must shift her training focus to shorter distances.
“We are going to train her for track with some focus on cross country because she still wants to do track but she still wants to go to worlds and do well there,” said Schultz.
First-year Remy Cattell had an impressive first race at nationals finishing as the second runner for the women’s team in 31st place.
“She will be another one of those athletes that are going to be really good moving forward,” said Schultz. “She was the one that stood out the most out of all of the first years.”
A shocking start to the men's 10-kilometre race forced team captain Isaiah Frienlink to play catch up. He started walking to the start line to begin the race, but before he could get there, the starter let off the starting pistol. Frienlink ran to the start line, take off his jacket, and then caught up to the pack.
Nevertheless, Frienlink ran an impressive race, passing 120 people to secure 30th place and finished as the first runner for the Mustangs.
“I was very proud of him for continually pushing through the race rather than just shutting down and jogging in,” said Schultz.
First-year Marcel Scheele was the second finishing runner for the men’s team, he placed 43rd in the field of 143 runners. Scheele was named U Sports Rookie of the Year following the race, in addition to his OUA Rookie of the Year title he received two weeks prior.
“He was very happy with the title, but wanted to do a lot better in the race,” said Schultz. “He is someone that will be like Isaiah Frienlink and will be able to finish top 10 in the future.”
The focus for the season was on developing the young team’s knowledge and experience of racing cross-country at a higher level, they accomplished just that. Although Coach Schultz was very happy with this year, he believes the team still has a lot more work to do.