by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
In one the closest men’s cross country races in recent years, the Lancer men’s team claimed a team silver medal at the OUA Championships in Waterloo this past weekend.
The five-man Lancer squad finished with 54 points, just one point behind the Guelph Gryphons, who captured their eleventh consecutive OUA team crown. On the women’s side, third year Lancer standout Stefanie Smith was named an OUA first team all-star by virtue of her third overall finish.
The men’s team was led by fifth year Paul Janikowski, who captured the silver individual medal, finishing the race just one second behind gold medalist Alex Wilkie of the Queen’s Gaels. Janikowski finished the 10-kilometer race in a time of 30:44.3 to be named a first team OUA all-star.
Overall, Windsor had five runners earn first or second team all-conference status and Lancers cross country head coach Gary Malloy was proud of the way his runners battled.
“The men are disappointed they didn’t win but are happy that they came through with such good performances,” Malloy said. “Paul was in a real battle and it’s a great comeback story for him after suffering various injuries. For him to finish off his last year with a silver medal is great.”
Corey Bellemore placed seventh overall with a time of 31.01.4 and joined Janikowski as a first team all-star. Third-year Joseph Kagumba rounded out the individual accolades for Windsor when he was named a second team all-star with a 13th place finish, completing the course in a time of 31.36.0. Other Lancers scorers included Jordan Collison in 15th with a time of 31.36.8 and Shawn Master in seventh with a time of 31.39.1.
“The men were full value in their race, we didn’t expect to be one point away from the gold medal,” Malloy. “The guys ran real tough and it was a nail-biter all the way through. It could have gone either way. There are so many combinations and permutations with one point going one way or the other it can drive you crazy thinking about it.”
Overall, the Lancer women finished eighth overall in the team competition despite missing one of their top five runners. Smith claimed the OUA bronze medal by completing the six-kilometer course in a time of 20.10.4.
“At three kilometers I felt pretty strong and I decided to go for it,” said Smith. “With one kilometer to go I saw all of my coaches and teammates cheering and they gave me the final little push I needed. It was really close going into the last hill and the last 150 meters I caught the girl from Guelph and I finished third. My goal was to make top seven so I definitely did better than I expected”
Allie Parks, a transfer from the University of Montana, was named a second team all-star with an eighth place finish crossing the finish in a time of 20:49.6.
Rookie Chelsea Viselli was the third Lancer across the line in a time of 22:21.1, while Sydney Hawkins finished in a time of 23:50.3 and Lauren Fisico ran a 23:54.7.
The Lancers program will now prepare for the 2015 CIS Cross Country Championships hosted by the University of Guelph Nov. 14. While the men automatically qualify their full team to the national championships, the women will have to wait to see if they qualify for the big dance.
“We feel pretty confident and are looking forward to go into a rematch and give Guelph another battle,” Malloy said. “We will have a roster of eight, seven will run. With the women, we are not sure about the full team yet but Stefanie and Allie will definitely be competing.”