Stingers cross-country team looking to seize the moment

Concordia running squad has big ambitions despite COVID setback

  • Look out for some Stingers cross-country action this fall. File Photo Caroline Marsh

While COVID-19 will keep the Stingers from competing normally this fall, Concordia’s cross-country team sees this time as an opportunity to grow.

While the team won’t have a regular season or RSEQ sanctioned competition to participate in, they will be allowed to organize exhibition activities with other schools.

“We have an inter-team schedule of races that we put together to basically practice racing,” said Sébastien Jessup, a co-captain of the cross-country team. “There’s the potential of two inter-university meets in October, but those are still up in the air at the moment.”

And while the decision to cancel university sports this fall is disappointing, those on the cross-country team still feel fortunate to be able to enjoy the sport they love.

“Sometimes we just have to make the best of the situation we’re in,” said Jo Wedlock, the fellow co-captain. “If this is what the foreseeable future looks like, with a few races here and there, at least there are events and stuff to train for.”

In normal circumstances, the team would have been meeting regularly and running together since the end of August. But with the pandemic, the team has only met to train together a handful of times.

Even as in-person training sessions are few and far between, the team values the time they get to spend together.

“We realize how important the social element of our team is,” Wedlock said. “Whether it’s a first year student or someone that is new to the city, it’s good for newcomers to spend time in-person with their teammates for there to be some sense of normalcy.”

Over the next few months, the cross-country team’s ambitions extend further than training and competition. Through the Concordia Shuffle, an annual walkathon to raise money for student support, the team has set up a fundraising initiative to resurrect the Stingers track and field program. The goal is to raise $10,000 to cover three years of league fees, starting in the winter of 2022.

“We’re trying to broaden the athletics offering at Concordia to include throwing, jumping, sprint and relay teams,” Wedlock said. “At the moment we can only offer a running component in the track and field season, which is only in the fall.”

Most of the student-athletes that compete on the cross-country team have expressed interest in competing in various track and field events. Expanding the program would mean that these athletes can train and compete throughout the whole academic year.

It’s also a way to grow Concordia’s student-athlete population.

“Track athletes that are looking at universities can sometimes overlook us because we don’t have a program at Concordia,” Wedlock said. “We receive plenty of inquiries about track and field as well from current students or students thinking of coming here.”

Resurrecting the Concordia track and field program would also help the Stingers compete with their cross-town rivals, McGill.

“For example, both the University of Laval and McGill have serious sports facilities and real track and field programs,” Jessup said. “Following their example could give our program a huge boost and eventually compete with the bigger programs.”

For now, the cross-country team is focused on integrating their newcomers and getting better as a group to be ready when sanctioned competitions return in the fall of 2022.

“The running team at Concordia has always had this underdog reputation,” Jessup said. “If we step up our game and take this time to grow our program, I think we’ll eventually get the respect we deserve and compete with the best.”

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