Racing their way from being the runner-up last season, into being the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) champions this season, is the Dalhousie men’s cross-country team’s mindset.
“Every time I have an interview with the Gazette and the men’s cross-country team comes up for the last five years, I have talked about how young, building and developing our team is,” said the team’s Head Coach Rich Lehman. “I have done that enough times to now say that we’re there. They’re expected to win a conference championship this year.”
Lehman also said if his team could finish in the top 10 in the AUS championship than that will make it a good year. He said a top 10 finish might be a stretch, but if his team has a good day than it is possible.
The team will be similar to last year’s team because they only lost two runners: Jake Wing and Brendan Gemmell. They added last season’s MVP, Calvin DeWolfe, who left St. Xavier’s University in order to go to Dalhousie’s law school. This is big, because not only do they add the best runner in the conference, but also, they take him away from the school that has won the last six AUS titles.
“What Cal can bring that we haven’t had in the last seven years is…he hasn’t lost a team title yet,” said Lehman. “He knows what it is like to be a part of a team that goes out and gets it done. And he can lead a little bit that way.”
Team co-Captain, Will Russell, believes DeWolfe can have a deeper impact than being a fantastic runner with winning experience.
“He has been a leader not just in terms of his attitude and work ethic, but he has also been a very good team pillar that we can build a culture around,” said Russell. “I think adding Cal is a lot more valuable than just adding a former MVP and former team champion”.
Another new addition is first-year runner, James Cromack, who Lehman says is the best cross-country recruit they have had in seven years. The Caledon Ontario native won nine regional championship medals and was his high school team’s cross-country MVP every year.
Cromack doesn’t have any personal expectations because cross-country is “such an unpredictable sport.” He wants to make sure he helps his team to his fullest capabilities and he feels he has a lot of runners to look up too as he starts his AUS career.
At last season’s AUS championship, five current Tigers (including DeWolfe) finished in the top 12. If runners like Callum Drever, who finished 11th and AUS rookie of the year Trent Lynds, who finished 12th can squeeze into the top 10, then they should be a lock to win the AUS championship because they have half of the top 10 runners.
The team was close last year, they finished second in every AUS conference race they ran in. The team’s other co-Captain, Angus MacIntosh, believes being a fully committed team is what it will take in order to win the title this year.
“I think most importantly is a team buy-in, making sure everyone is moving together in the same direction and making sure we are putting quality workouts and doing what we have to do in between the workouts to make sure we are at our fittest and ready to go for each race.”