by J. Thomson
LONDON, Ont -– It was a hard-fought day for Humber cross country, as they ran to defend their places on the provincial podium.
Women's Cross Country, 6k
The ladies six-kilometre race featured two three-kilometre loops through Fanshawe Conservation Area. Through the first lap, the Hawks quickly put their team-first running style on display with 2016 All-Canadian Kaitlin Shuvera leading the way -jostling for a top-five position - with the grouping of Katelyn Morgan, Marcia Coelho, Maxine Cotton, Danielle Dupuis and Patricia Rothenburg not too far behind.
Humber fell short of breaking up Fanshawe's top four, earning a second-place silver medal, claiming the program's 12th consecutive provincial medal. Shuvera repeated as a top-five talent, finishing in fourth, while sporting a new personal best – 22:46 – earning a nod for First Team All-Ontario, for the second straight year. Coelho finished in 22nd, Cotton in 24th – both rocking the flat grounds of the conservation area for new personal bests, while Morgan finished 27th, Dupuis in 29th (a personal best by almost 30 seconds), and Rothenburg rounded out the group in 71st.
Men's Cross Country, 8k
The men's eight-kilometre race was a messy one, running over the same course the women had previously torn up. Making good on his promise to his teammates on a top-10 finish, Aaron Veenstra lead the way for the men, grinding it out with the province's top competitors to a ninth-place finish while coming away with a personal best as well.
Conditions prevented team ace Shawn Acrey from holding too close, but he closed when he needed to, to pull out the top-20 finish. Following the Hawks' signature pack running techniques were Zak Nixon, Graiden Maynard, Jake Thomson, and Simon Wells, who fed off each others grit to hunt down groups of runners throughout the second loop of five-kilometres. With Nixon, Maynard and Thomson all sporting personal bests, the squad fell short of their goal of a podium finish but still proved that even when they aren't one hundred percent, they are still a force, finishing fourth as a team and nabbing a berth at the national competition.
Veenstra finished ninth and was named to the Second Team All-Ontario. Rounding out the scorers for Humber were Acrey (20th), Nixon (31st), Maynard (32nd), Thomson (33rd), and Wells (38th).
The group will look to fight for bigger prizes at the CCAA Cross Country Nationals, November 11, hosted by St. Lionel-Groulx.