by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Lancer cross-country team put in another strong showing as they dominated the Windsor Open at Malden Park over the weekend.
Windsor captured both team titles and saw exceptional performances from a number of key athletes on the roster.
On the women’s side, Allie Parks and Stefanie Smith swept the top two spots, pushing each other as they ran throughout the five-kilometer course. Parks placed first overall with a time of 19:35 while Smith was second with a time of 19:52.
Parks, 22, is a transfer from the University of Montana and said her last couple of races has been the benefit of her new Lancers training regiment.
“When you want to prove yourself on a new team it really pushes you that much more and I’ve seen that in my times,” Parks said. “I’ve been faster than I have in the past couple of years which is awesome. Everyone is really supportive here and the team atmosphere really makes you want to do your best for everybody. It’s a huge motivator.”
Smith said the Windsor Open was a good opportunity for the women to work the course as a team with the OUA championships in Waterloo coming up Oct. 31.
“We knew the course was going to be physically tough so it was good for us mentally to work on some team tactics,” explained Smith. “Hopefully things will align once we get to OUA’s.”
Smith added having a teammate like Parks helps her and the rest of the team to improve as runners.
“I knew coming in to the season we would work well together,” said Smith. “It’s great to have someone right with you to work with during races, especially when I’m tired and I know I can’t give in because she’s helping me along, she’s right there with me and we’re pushing each other and it’s awesome. The goal is to do whatever is takes to get to the starting line at CIS championship in Guelph … we know we are the underdogs but mentally we are really on our game right now.”
Chelsea Viselli was Windsor’s next scorer, crossed the line in a time of 21:51. Rounding out the Lancer scorers were Alison Robinson in 22:39 and Sydney Hawkins in 22:51.
“I think if we all get out there and do what we can do we can get to the CIS meet,” Parks said. “If the whole team can get there that would be really amazing. I’m really excited to see what the Canadian competition has to offer.”
On the men’s side, Nick Falk, a Lancer alumni running with the University of Windsor Athletic Club, captured the individual title with a time of 25:08. Alex Ullman was the first Lancer across the line, finishing the eight-kilometer course in a time of 26:16. Taylor McArthur was right behind him at 26:23, and Andrew Nebel ran a solid 26:30. Corey Bellemore and Paul Janikowski picked it up on the final lap and finished with the exact same time of 26:37.
With a stable of runners at their disposal, the second-ranked men’s cross country team does not have a problem with depth, only deciding who the seven runners will be when the Lancers toe the starting line at the OUA championships in Waterloo.
McArthur said the Lancers used the final meet of the season to work out and finalize their roster for the upcoming OUA Championships Oct. 31 in Waterloo.
“Our top five guys are on the OUA roster but there are still two open spots for the rest of the team to fight for,” explained McArthur. “It was a good team battle out there and that is what makes our team great. We’re all working for each other and towards the same goal but at the end of the day two spots have to be given to two people … we all understand how strong we are.”
Earlier this season at the McMaster Invitational, the Lancers had to use their sixth and seventh runners to determine a tiebreaker for the meet title. A similar situation occurred at the 2014 OUA meet, which cost the Lancers the overall team title.
“It’s not going to be five guys scoring this year,” said McArthur. “It’s going to be five guys scoring and two other guys displacing the other teams scores so it’s a seven-man team out there during every race in championship season. We’re ranked second right now but last week we were ranked sixth so we could end up first, second or sixth at any given meet so we need to be a seven-man team.”
Should the Lancers advance, the 2015 CIS cross-country championships will take place in Guelph Nov. 14.