For the second time in four years, the UBC Okanagan Heat women are the Canadian collegiate cross country running champions.
Training and teamwork set the stage for a gold medal performance over the weekend at the CCAA cross country nationals in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Led by second-year runner Veronika Fagan on the 5 km course, the Heat compiled the winning total of 50 points, 15 better than the runners-up from Queen’s University (65).
“The ladies positioned themselves well off the start and settled right into their pace over the fast mostly flat course with rolling hills spread out,” said Heat coach Colin Wallace. “They showed incredible strength and battled over the entire 5 km.”
Fagan, from West Kelowna, went out with the leaders and showed she belonged there.
With a strong kick to the finish, Fagan was the fourth woman to cross the finish line with a time of 18:49. She was named an All-Canadian at the nationals awards banquet.
“Originally, I thought top 10 is what I would aim for, and I was prepared to work for that spot,”said Fagan.
“At the end of the race, less than 100m left, was a long steep hill where either of two things happened, either you passed people or people passed you. We trained for this type of course and felt prepared to demolish it.
“About 200 metres for the finish line, realizing that I was in fourth was a huge surprise for me, and I really couldn’t believe it. It felt surreal. This was a huge accomplishment for me.”
In the second group, Camille Galloway (15th) led the rest of the Heat team finishing a half a minute ahead of a wave of other UBCO runners including: Josie Storey (20th), Anna Merino (23rd), Alex Beswick (28th), and Alea Stockton (43rd).
On the men’s side, the Heat ran to a 12th place overall finish.
National tournament all-star Cael Warner led the way, finishing the 8 km race 26th overall with a time of 28:08.
Also scoring for UBCO was Mike Mitchell, Sam Goodrich and Cailan Libby, with first-year runners Austin White (30:50) and Kyle Foster (31:37) as displacers.