Men and Women race to second place finishes in AUS, sending five total athletes to the National Championships on November 12th.
In the final weekend of October, StFX Cross Country competed in the AUS championships hosted at Acadia University. They did not disappoint, taking home second place for both the men’s and women’s team.
Frontrunner, Angus Rawling took home the top spot in the 10km male race, posting an impressive time of 31:43.55. The Calgarian also had the honor of being named AUS Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year. His sights are set on achieving All Canadian (Top 14) status and the hope to compete in the World University Games in the spring. For Angus, his commitment to the sport of running is immeasurable. “I was running between 140 to 160 km a week, with additional strength and tempo workouts.”
Accompanying Rawling at the National Championships is P.E.I native Alex Neuffer who claimed second place at the AUS championships, as well as Antigonish talent Paul MacLellan with a sixth place showing at AUS. Both Neuffer and MacLellan were also named to the AUS Cross Country All Star team with Rawling.
Lower expectations were probable at the start of the year as more than half of the team graduated in May. The second place showing is a great testament to the resiliency and consistency of the program and esteemed head coach Bernie Chisholm. The team will return with the majority of its athletes next year in its first year under Olympian Eric Gillis, the current assistant coach.
On the women’s side, two StFX athletes finished in the top 5; Liz MacDonald and Rachel MacDougall racing to fourth and fifth place, respectively.
“Liz was hampered by injuries all year, but she ran a fantastic race and finished as an all-conference runner in her final year,” explains head coach Bernie Chisolm. “Rachel started running as a university student only two and half years ago, she just took up the sport and came along very well. Her hard work was incredible and hopefully she can return for another year, as her potential is unbelievable,” Chisholm comments.
Both teams seem to take the term ‘No Days Off’ to heart. Their training is at least one run a day, with half of the month consisting of two-a-days. With this heavy training schedule, Coach Bernie Chisholm was happy to see both teams perform so well, commenting, "I Just wanted the runners to run well and to the best of their ability, and this past weekend I was very very pleased with both the men’s and women’s teams."
Commenting on the prowess of the male team, Chisholm states: “Alex suffered through injuries the past couple of years, and he worked extremely hard to get back where he needed to be. Him and Angus provided the leadership for the younger athletes of the team, and their return next year is obviously beneficial. It’ll be a great experience for Paul at the National Championship, He ran extremely well this past year and has made great strides.”
Coach Chisholm, who is entering his 31st and final year at the helm of the cross country program, had the unique experience of coaching Eric Gillis in high school and university, and the pending retirement is eased by the excellence that Coach Gillis will provide. However, Chisholm is not one to dwell on the past, remarking “We will take four or five days off after Nationals, then head right into training for the indoor track season. I am not considering that this is the end, as we still have a lot of work to do as a team”.
The National Championship begins November 12th in Victoria, BC, a place referred to as a “hotbed of running”. The five StFX athletes certainly can expect tough competition, but are more than ready to represent the white and blue to the best of their ability.