By: Lauren Breadner
It doesn’t seem like anyone can slow down the University of Windsor Lancer women’s cross-country team.
Over the fall reading week, the Lancer cross-country team travelled to Peoria, Illinois to compete at the Bradley Pink Classic in preparation for the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Cross-Country Provincials on October 28. The Bradley Pink Classic, held at Newman Golf Course, featured five races. Competing against National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II and III athletes, the Lancers came out on top.
“There is good competition in the NCAA,” cross-country Head Coach Gary Malloy said about the weekend in Illinois. “We ran a great race and it was a full team effort.”
As a team, the Lancers women runners placed first with 27 points, 41 points better than second-place Monmouth College in Illinois. Leading the way for the Lancers was fifth-year Stefanie Smith. Smith placed first out of 97 NCAA athletes with a time of 20:54.
“Overall, I am happy with how I raced,” Smith said about her performance. “It was a nice mental break to not race with the same people every weekend. I can come back now and focus.”
The Lancers will compete on Saturday, October 28th, at Malden Park in Windsor for the OUA Provincials. Running in Windsor will give the Lancers the ‘home court advantage’ against other universities in Ontario. Fourth-year kinesiology student, Sydney Hawkins, is looking forward to the race and hoping for the best.
“I am excited about provincials,” Hawkins exclaimed. “I am from Windsor and my whole family is coming to cheer us on. We also have an advantage in the sense that we are one of a few teams who have run the course.”
The OUA recently increased the length of the course for females, changing it from six kilometers to eight. The course at Malden Park proves to be a tough challenge for runners.
“The course is very hilly,” Coach Malloy stated about Malden Park. “But we run there every day, and we know every hill and every divot.”
Supporting the Lancers on the 28 will be cross-country alumni, family and friends of the athletes, and students from the University of Windsor. With the race of her life, Smith is setting her expectations high.
“If I run the best race I can, I think I can make the top five,” Smith predicts about the Provincials race. “If everything falls into place then [our team] might podium.”
The U SPORTS Cross-Country Nationals are being held in Victoria, British Columbia on November 2 and the graduating Lancers athletes are setting their sights on running in that race.
Hawkins said, “I have been to Nationals before and had the best experience ever. I want to go back one more time with my team.”
The Lancers females start their race at 11 a.m. and the men follow at 12 p.m. on October 28. With the Lancers on pace to turn some heads, it should be a race you don’t want to miss!
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