Concordia Runs Out of Luck

Winter Conditions Slow Down Stingers Runners in Nationals

  • Ryan Noel Hodge competes in an earlier cross country race. Photo Jennie Mae Roy

A snow-covered course limited Concordia to a middling performance at last Saturday’s national cross-country championships in Quebec City.

“The athletes all performed within the expected range,” said coach John Lofranco. “I’m proud of all of them.”

Leading the Stingers was Dominique Roy, a conference bronze medalist, and Ryan Noel-Hodge, a top-ten placer at provincials, who placed 34th and 47th in their respective races.

For the women, Elizabeth Mokrusa placed 111th and former Stinger’s soccer player Molly Howes placed 123rd. There were 137 finishers in the women’s race.

For the men, Sofiane Guend ended his Stinger career on a high, achieving his best placing in a national championship by finishing 78th, and 32-year-old Simon Driver placed 85th despite vomiting as he crossed the finish line. There were 134 finishers in the men’s race.

“They did their best against one of the most competitive fields the Canadian Interuniversity Sports has ever seen,” said Lofranco.

The University of Guelph dominated the competition, placing five runners in the top ten of the championship, a feat that earned them the national title. This year’s showing marked Guelph’s seventh consecutive win by their women’s team and the sixth by their men’s.

Kelly Hewitt ran for Concordia this year, but just missed out on nationals, although she still travelled up to the capital to cheer on the team. She said running in snow is just something you have to deal with as a runner.

“This weekend the weather definitely slowed down times a little, but we train outdoors all year ‘round, so I doubt any of the runners were phased by it,” Hewitt told The Link.

“Our goal is always to finish at the top of the conference. Obviously, that didn’t happen this year, but I stand by us making big goals […] regardless of whether it happens or not,” she said. “The team as a whole has no intention of abandoning that goal next year.”

Echoing coach Lofranco’s opinion about the strength of the field at the event, Hewitt said cross-country is not a dying sport, but rather a growing one due to successful Canadian cross-country competitors.

“With great Olympic qualifying performances by Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis—professional distance runners—at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Canadian distance running is experiencing a resurgence,” said Hewitt.

Lofranco said the runners who competed last weekend will take a two-week break. Then the Stingers will commence a base building season in which they will gradually increase the amount of daily running that they do.

Fans of cross-country can also catch Concordia’s best at the Ottawa Marathon in May and the provincial and national track and field championships during the summer.

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