TORONTO - Heading into their second season, both the men's and women’s cross country teams had set a goal of a top 10 finish having placed 15th and 13th in 2015.

“It was an ambitious goal for sure in only our second year, but we felt it was realistic based on the athletes we had returning,” commented assistant coach Albert Dell’Apa.  

Last Sunday, the team put it to the test at Centennial Park in Etobicoke.  The Rams had stellar performances by Rebecca Verlaan who placed 30th overall in a time of 22.19 and Joel Perera-Satgunem who placed 53rd with a time of 33.31 to lead their teams to respective 11th and 13th place finishes.

While the women’s team fell just shy of their goal, head coach Tim Uuksulainen was very happy because of the circumstances.

“The girls showed real grit and determination out there and I couldn’t be more proud of them. The team did it with three key starters unable to compete due to injury and its five athletes to count. It shows a top 10 was there to be had,” said Uuksulainen.  

Anna Cianni had another strong season placing 66th in 24.16 followed by Melinda Marghetis 79th in 24.57. Rookie Meghan Gaudette kept improving all season and finished a strong 83rd in 25.23 followed by Kaitlynn Sanger who ran injured but was the key fifth place counter for the team and really overcame a lot  adversity just to race. Aida Smlactic placed 92nd with a season best 27.25. The overall team score of 339 points is a Rams record beating the previous total of 392 points.

The men came in healthy and had strong performances inspired by the Rams captain and leader Joel Perera-Satgunem. Michael Konstantopoulos had a personal best of 34.47 placing 68th ahead of Ben Snider-McGrath who ran 36.11 for 81st place. Snider-McGrath, who had a very strong season, showed he is poised to move up the rankings in the coming years. Next was Valerian Gomes who had an excellent race in 37.08 in 88th place holding off teammate Aaron McQuaid by one place in 37.16. McQuaid, who is known for his indoor short speed, took 2.5 minutes off his time from this race last year.  Hot on his heels was Matt Wahl who also improved significantly from last year with a solid 37.51 in 92nd place. Selva Yogarajah competing in his first year ran 38.16 in 94th place.

While the team fell short of their top ten goal they did move up two positions and also set a team total points record of 373, 52 points better than last year.

“I think both teams really improved this year. They see how tough the OUA division is, by far the strongest in the country and we are learning to compete better and know that if we keep it going the results will continue to improve. We are already excited about next year,” echoed both coaches.  

The following Ryerson athletes will be going to the CIS Cross Country Championships to be held November 12 in Quebec City: Rebecca Verlaan, Anna Cianni, Joel Perera-Satgunem and Michael Konstantopoulos. 

The University of Guelph Gryphons women and Western Mustangs men cross country teams were crowned champions. 

The Gryphons women claimed their 13th consecutive OUA title, finishing with 46 points ahead of the silver medalist Queen's Gaels (58) and bronze medalist Toronto Varsity Blues (63). The Western Mustangs placed fourth with 78 points, while McMaster rounded out the top five with 149 points.

The Western Mustangs men dethroned the 11-time reigning champion Guelph Gryphons, finishing in first with 53 points. The Windsor Lancers placed second with 60 points, with Guelph claiming the team bronze medal with 72 points. McMaster and Queen's placed fourth and fifth, respectively, with 95 and 109 points, respectively.

Individually, fourth-year Queen's Gaels veteran Claire Sumner earned OUA MVP honours, crossing the finish line in first place 20:16.17.

Rookie Varsity Blues runner Lucia Stafford was right behind Sumner, claiming OUA rookie of the year honours and the silver medal in a time of 20:17.1.  Queen's veteran Julie-Anne Staehli won the individual bronze in a time of 20:18.6.

On the men's side, Windsor Lancers standout Corey Bellemore claimed MVP laurels, placing first overall in a time of 30:35.8.

Lakehead's Kevin Tree earned the silver medal in a time of 30:43.2, finishing five seconds ahead of bronze medalist Jack Sheffar of the Western Mustangs.