Lady Royals getting familiar with x-country podium

Six years have gone by since Redeemer University College held an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association cross country event and that stretch ended on Saturday (Sept. 28) when the Royals were hosts for an invitational meet with teams from across the province competing along one of the most grueling courses on the circuit.

Redeemer University College is also set to welcome the top teams in the province back to Ancaster on Oct. 26 when the Royals host the 2013 OCAA provincial championships.

The invitational was held at the Dundas Valley Conservation Authority in Ancaster, Ontario.

Redeemer’s women’s cross country team placed third at the Royals’ invitational run on the weekend. (Photo: Redeemer Athletics)

Overall it was a good day for the Royals as the women’s team captured third place and the men’s team took sixth. The invitational was one of the most well attended events of the year as teams are looking to get a glimpse of what the OCAA championship course will look like. As a result, the field for the event was quite deep and very strong.

Redeemer’s top runner on the day was Julie Koopmans who used the home course to her advantage, moving up 10 spots from her previous race and capturing seventh place with a time of 23:28. On the men’s side, first-year runner Aaron Hesman crossed the line first for Redeemer in 26th place with a time of 32:45.

The Lady Royals reached the podium for the second time in two races as they finished third overall as a team in a crowded competition of 11 complete teams. Sault College and Humber College finished first and second respectively with a sizable lead over the rest of the pack. Sault College had a team total of 26 points while Humber College had 29 points. Redeemer’s 70 points were good enough for the 3rd spot with Seneca College three points in fourth place.

Two other Redeemer runners cracked the top 30 for the women as Adrianna So finished 22nd with a time of 25:54 and rookie Shelby Cramer finished in 27th with a time of 25:22. Gina Van Haren was Redeemer’s fourth scorer in 37th place with a time of 26:3. Rounding out the rest of the women’s team was Melissa Payne (41st, 27:22), Melissa Borgdorrf (44th, 27:49), Kelsey Wozny (46th, 28:11), Danica Thomsen (47th, 28:13), Emily Lorimer (48th, 28:50), Brooke Lidstone (62nd, 30:47), and Gillian Gladu (73rd, 38:24).

Head coach Jeff Summerhays said he was pleased with the Lady Royals effort. “Julie moved up to where she should be which was great to see. We still need to tighten some of the gaps but when it comes down to it. I believe that it (championship) will be very close between the third, fourth and fifth place teams.”

Courteny Brohart from St. Lawrence (Kingston) tore up the course in a time of 21:56 to finish first.

On the men’s side, rookie Hesman continues to lead the Royals. Another strong race had him finish first across the line again for Redeemer. In his first race of the year, Caleb Heerema surprised many runners by finishing just one spot behind Aaron in 27th with a time of 32:49. Redeemer jumped from 10th place at the Fanshawe Invitational to 6th place at the Redeemer Invitational and a large part of the better result was Heerema’s time. Veteran runner Nathan Verbaan clocked in at 34:10 and in 33rd place while Redeemer’s final team scorer was Jonathan Thiessen in 48th in a time of 35:59. Colten Gowan (50th, 36:43) and Keith Williams (56th, 37:13) rounded out the Redeemer men’s team.

When asked about the men’s team, Summerhays was very positive.

“I was pleasantly surprised with their results. A number of our guys moved up on the field and ran a solid race. Caleb ran strong in his first race and was thrilled with where he finished. I think overall this should give our team some good motivation moving forward. We need to continue training hard and, the Lord willing, stay healthy”.

Humber College won the men’s race with 33 points. They finished tied with Mohawk College but the Mountaineers had to settle for second in the tiebreaker. Conestoga was third place with 38 points. Redeemer had 106 points for their 6th place finish. There were 10 full men’s teams competing.

Fleming runner Kiley Olesky crossed the line first with a time of 28:17.

The Royals travel to Humber College on Oct. 5. Humber College is hosting an invitational but will also be the site of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s national championships.