The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s team set the pace to win the gold medal at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross Country Championship.
UBCO placed four runners in the top 23 to score the winning total of 40 overall points at the nationals Nov. 9 hosted by Humber College in Etobicoke, Ont.
Sandra Kilmartin (Salmon Arm) ran a blazing five kilometre race, staying with the front runners the entire distance to finish fourth with a time of 19:30.27, just 13 seconds behind the winner, Lesley Koopman (19:17.95) from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
“I learned what I was capable of with my running,” a jubilant Kilmartin said post-race. “This is my best performance of the season and I’m very excited to continue to see what I’ve got in me. This was such a great experience.”
Michelle Blackburne (West Kelowna) was the next UBC Okanagan runner to cross, placing 11th in 20:12.82. Coach Nikki Reiter labelled her performance as a “tremendous asset to team scoring” with her outstanding time. Blackburne was running at the championships for a second year in a row.
“I’m so excited about our team’s performance,” she said. “Our goal as a team was to finish on the podium, so I’m very excited about a first place result.”
Also scoring towards the team medal were season best performances by Alea Stockton (20:40.37) and Anna Merino (20:44.61) who finished 22nd and 23rd respectively overall. The four finishes in the team competition were 1, 6, 16, 17. The silver went to SAIT from Calgary with a score of 62, and St. Clair College from Windsor scored 87 for the bronze.
This is the first medal at the national championships for the Heat. The team has continually improved under the guidance of coach Nikki Reiter in her three years, going from 13th in 2011 to 4th last year at the championships.
Displacers were Trisha Metro (35th, 21:15.70) and Kendall Seasons (47th, 21:37.96) who rounded out the teams golden performance on the day.
On top of the team’s gold medal and national championship Sandra Kilmartin finished with a national tournament first team all-star, while Michelle Blackburne was awarded a second team tournament all-star. Only UBC Okanagan and MacEwan placed two runners on the all-star team, honouring the top ten finishers of the race of 120 competitors.