by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Windsor Lancers cross country team is looking towards the OUA championships after a strong showing at the Bradley Pink Classic meet this past weekend.
Senior runners Corey Bellemore and Stef Smith both won their respective races against large fields of NCAA competition at Newman Golf Golf Course in Peoria, Ill., Oct. 15. Smith, who won a CIS individual bronze medal at the 2015 cross country championships, won the women’s six kilometer “white” race by nearly a full minute, crossing the finish line in 21:30.7. In a field of 241 competitors, Bellemore went out hard from the starting gun to finish first overall in the men’s eight kilometer “red” race with a time of 24:16.1.
The women’s team followed up Smith’s performance with an 82 point effort, placing second out of 26 teams, losing only to the hosts from Bradley University. Windsor’s top scoring finishes went to Sydney Hawkins in 11th (23:22.2), Chelsea Viselli in 22nd (23:45.5), Rachel Crawley in 24th (23:47.6) and Fiona Rocheleau in 49th (24:27.3).
“It was our first six kilometer of the year so it was tough,” admitted Smith. “It was nice to get the win but our whole team ran really well which is great confidence going into OUA’s. We’re really getting into the groove of team running.”
Overall, the men’s team compiled 128 total points and finished second out of 24 teams, beating several high profile NCAA schools such as the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and losing only to the Saint Louis Billikins (103 points). Windsor’s top five finishes went to Shawn Master in 28th (25:03.9), Alex Ullman in 32nd (25:07.6), freshman Miles Matthews 37th (25:12.6) and Andrew Nebel 46th (25:07.9). Rounding out the top seven was Taylor McArthur in 57th (25:27.2) and Jeremy Hick in 101st (26:02.4).
“The race was something our team definitely needed,” said Bellemore. “We were focusing on closing gaps between our scoring runners and we executed that pretty well. Individually, I wanted to try something new and get after it to really test myself. Mentally it was very tough race but I’m happy with my overall performance.”
Matthews, a rookie out of Belle River high school, registered his season’s best run of 25:12.6 at Bradley and has shown large strides in improvement throughout the season. After a sub-par performance two weeks ago in Louisville, KY., Matthews improved his personal best over an eight kilometer course by nearly 30 seconds.
“Our team is shaping up at the right time for championship season which starts in two weeks,” said Bellemore. “For a rookie to be one of the top scorers on the team is huge. [Matthews] is doing very well and we will be looking to his contributions in the next few weeks.”With their NCAA schedule wrapped up, the Lancers now focus on their provincial and national competition and prepare for possibly cold weather races as the the OUA championships hosted by the University of Toronto at Centennial Park in Etobicoke Oct. 30.
The CIS cross country championships will be hosted by the University of Laval in Quebec City, QC., Nov. 12.