The Dalhousie University Tigers men’s cross country team defended their third straight Atlantic University Sport (AUS) title on Oct. 29 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
“Being able to win pretty handily without really being rested was a cool feeling and gives us a lot of confidence moving into nationals,” said Will Cox, who placed sixth in the meet.
The Tigers have an older team this year, with Hudson Grimshaw-Surette as one of the Tigers in his final year. He placed fourth in the meet. The 2022 AUS cross country title felt different for Grimshaw-Surette in his last year with the team, as he picked up his third straight title.
“I think this one’s a little bit more special than the last couple. Just for that sake,” said Grimshaw-Surette.
Preparing for nationals
This was the team’s 22nd conference title ever. It’s a shot of confidence as the squad prepares for the 2022 U SPORTS Cross Country Championships on Nov. 12 at The Links at Brunello Golf Course in Timberlea, N.S. The course is about a 20-minute drive from Dal’s Studley Campus. The Tigers will co-host the event with the Saint Mary’s University Huskies.
With changes looming after this season, this U SPORTS championship is a significant one.
“This is the year to do it because we’re losing some of the older guys this year. It’s kind of now or never for us to perform on that national stage,” said Cox.
The second-year racer said he did not feel he was at his sharpest as the group was “pedal to the metal” before the championships. He felt the effects of training through his tired legs.
“I think individually I could have done a little better but everyone has off days, that’s alright,” said Cox. “I was so happy that the guys were able to show up and all put in good efforts. The team title was the main thing we were looking at. I’m hoping to have a better run in a couple of weeks.”
Usually, cross country teams will decrease the intensity of training going into a big meet such as an AUS championship. But since the Tigers wanted to focus their preparation on nationals, the team continued intense training right up until the AUS championship. Dal will now hit up to three more intense workouts, before gradually cutting its mileage going into nationals.
With nationals in Halifax this year, the Tigers will have a home-soil advantage. Robertson said it will be nice to sleep in his own bed and not have to worry about travelling too far.
“It’s all kind of working in our favour,” he said.
Dal’s women’s cross country team, despite not coming out of UPEI with the banner, looks forward to featuring some runners at the U SPORTS event. The Tigers finished with silver in the AUS championship. The team finished behind a powerful St. Francis Xavier University X-Women team. The winning team had two runners take the top two spots: Allie Sandluck and Mairin Canning.
Dal’s two top runners were Lauren Lowther in fifth place and Danielle Keefe in sixth.
The group is excited heading into nationals, Cox said, as they have been following results from other conferences to see how the group lines up against the top schools. With Dal competing in the Western University Invitational on Sept. 24 and placing third, Cox said he feels the team has improved since then.
“We’ve gotten a lot better since those races and I think it’s gonna be a really good one. We’re really excited to see where we’re going to be,” he said. “We set our sights on placing in the top five in the country earlier this year. I think that is definitely doable and I think we even knock ourselves up a spot or two from that.”