The Lancers Men’s Cross-Country team face a few challenges, but still managed to advance forward with their eyes set on the OUA championships this Saturday in Toronto.
“I trust that these guys want the same (thing) as I do in terms of results,” Lancers men’s captain Mathew Walters said. “It’s great to feel that we are all on the same page.”
While the other Lancers rest their legs and prepare for the OUAs, one Lancer received unfortunate news this past weekend.
Third-year Paul Janikowski had hoped his body would be in better shape to race, but that isn’t the case. He will take some time off the course and move his focus towards the track and field season.
“I have a stress fracture in my sacrum so I’m out for the season,” he said. “The doctor said no physical activity whatsoever for four-to-six weeks.”
Janikowski was expected to finish closely behind Walters. Individually finishing fifth at the CIS championship in 2011, he was among this year’s top contender.
Janikowski still has high hopes and expectations for his team. “I still believe we have a really good chance of finishing on the podium,” he said, adding that the championship will offer the rookie replacements an opportunity to compete against the best in Ontario and in Canada.
Walters hopes that he can continue to be a leader for the team and finds it very important at this time. “I look at myself as more of a silent leader, I try to lead by example,” he said. As a rookie, Walters looked up to alumni Matt Sinclair.
“He wasn’t much talk but he was all action. I always respected his opinion and trusted what he said was right.”
Kegel looks to fellow captain Walters as a leader. “He’s always stuck out as a great leader. He’s never been injured because he trains just about as smart as you can.”
“Every good team has had good leaders,” he added. “You need someone between your coach and your fellow runners that you can talk to.”
Kegel hopes to keep the entire team on a positive level. “With only 10 spots for our OUA team and eight spots for CIS, there are going to be guys who don’t make the team,” he said. “It is important
to keep the morale of these runners as positive as possible and have them training with the group.”
Despite the loss of Janikowski in the upcoming race, the Lancers enter Saturday’s competition ranked third in Canada behind the universities of Guelph and Victoria.
“We are going into these championship races with the best winning attitudes we can,” Kegel said. “We know other teams are really strong, but all seven of our runners will be racing right through till the end.”