By Jessica Robinson
Garnering attention province-wide as they outperform themselves in race after race, the Laurentian women’s Cross Country team is quickly growing into the top Voyageur team to follow this season.
The team topped their fourth place overall finish at the Western International Cross-Country Running Race on Sept. 20 by coming in an incredible third place at the Harry Anderson Invitational in Rochester a week later, continuing to build momentum as provincials draw nearer.
“We’re hoping to come top 10 in the country this year, which means we need to come top six in the OUA’s (the provincial competition) to qualify for nationals,” says Coach Dick Moss, who has been working with the Laurentian XC/Track team for over 14 years. “We were really close last year to pulling off a top 10 finish at CIS’ (the national competition); we were actually ranked top 10 for about three weeks. But the wheels kind of fell off at the end of the season with some health issues.”
The cross-country team fell just short of qualifying for nationals last year when they finished in seventh place at provincials. The team has learned from last year, taking preemptive measures to keep the girls in top shape during competition season.
“We now have a team doctor who’s working hand in hand with the (runners),” explains Moss. “(They’re) monitoring iron levels, that sort of thing, and I think that’s making a huge difference for us.”
The success the team is having this year has not come suddenly.
“[This team] has been about four years in the making,” he explained.
“Generally speaking, it takes at least two years of varsity training and running before an athlete starts to really hit their stride; so we’ve been working with a lot of this crew for two-to-three years. We’ve got some rookies that have jumped in a little faster than normally happens, but our vets have been at this for quite a while. They train year round, and it’s really starting to pay off.”
The team is not relying on any single superstar to carry the scores, instead finding themselves with talent ability widespread across the board.
“I think, all put together, we have seven or eight girls right now who on any single day could be one of our top five,” Moss comments. “We’ve got some depth that we’ve never had before, and the level of individual performance has really increased.”
Practice is being held in preparation for the OUA’s, which are now less than three weeks away, taking place on Oct. 25th.
The team is confident in their ability to outdo the team’s scores from the previous year, reaffirms Moss.
“On the 25th,” he says, “we’ll be ready.”