LONDON, ONT – The UBC Thunderbirds claimed the U SPORTS Women’s and Men’s Cross country titles for the first time on Sunday in London, Ontario, claiming the overall title for 2023.
Katie Newlove led the way for the UBC women, winning the women’s 8km event, while Jennifer Erickson finished fourth in the women’s competition.
The Thunderbirds finished with seven athletes in the top 20 in the women’s race, enough to capture their first title in the program’s history with 38 points. Newlove, a third-year runner from Ottawa, Ont., finished with the top time of 29:06.8, while Erickson missed the podium by one spot, running the distance in 29:27.4.
Hosting the event, the Western Mustangs won the overall silver medal in the women’s competition, finishing with a team of 71 points, with their best runner, Erika Jordan, crossing the line in bronze medal position in 29:24.7.
The StFX X-Women finished third in the women’s event with a team total of 95 points, led by their top runners, Mairin Canning and Eileen Benoit, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively, with times of 29:28.2 and 29.29.2
In the men’s race, Team Canada World Championship runner Jeane-Simon Desgagnes won the silver medal for the Laval Rouge et Or in 24:20.9; however, he was beaten by his teammate Philippe Morneau-Cartier, who took the top spot.
Although two Laval athletes took the top two spots, UBC’s presence was still common throughout the top 10 runners, as Andrew Davies captured bronze in 24:24.7, closely followed by Josh Perrier in fifth and Jaiveeer Tiwana in 10th.
With the two standouts from the Rouge et Or leading the way, Laval won the national silver medal in the men’s event for the second straight season, while the Queen’s Gaels, led by eighth and ninth-place Jude Wheeler-Dee and Roman Mironov finished with the men’s overall bronze.
Last year’s men’s champion, the McMaster Marauders, failed to place a runner within the top 30, after stacking the top ranks last season. Connor Lashley took the top spot in 33rd, a time of 25:42.5.
While the UBC Thunderbirds cleaned up the men’s, women’s and overall titles, they also took home individual award honours alongside the athletes that raced to medal positions. Their coach, Steve Weiler earned men’s and women’s team coach of the year honours. Meanwhile, the rookie of the year award went to Guelph Gryphon Julia Agostinelli and Alberta Golden Bear Jason Ushko.
“It’s an incredibly special day,” Weiler told UBC Athletics. “It’s incredibly difficult to put all the pieces together across a team of 14 and a competitive race with all these other teams with similar aspirations, but they did an excellent job of listening and buying in and executing well. It’s well deserved, they all ran fantastic today.”
Athletes now turn their attention to several non-U SPORTS events before many return to the Canadian university racing scene next season, with the 2024 national championships in Kelowna, BC.