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McGill runners climb to respectable finish on Mt. Royal

The McGill Martlets ran their first meet this past weekend, taking to Mount Royal to begin the 2013-2014 cross-country season. Third-year runner Jessica Porfilio topped the leaderboard for the Martlets, coming in 11th place with a final time of 14:57. McGill finished in third place overall among 21 teams.

The Martlets are welcoming a number of fresh faces to the team to round off a roster that is still fairly young. Head Coach Dennis Barrett, in his 29th season leading McGill’s cross-country team, has high hopes for the women’s roster.

“We have a couple [of] top recruits[…Emma Norman[…]competed for the University of North Carolina. She’s now at McGill. She ran, but she’s coming off a big injury,” he said.

McGill did well at the Mount Royal meet, with five women finishing in the top 30. Rounding out the score-sheet after Porfilio was Georgia Hamilton (16th), Jullien Flynn (22nd), Norman (26th), and Evelyn Anderson (27th). The Martlets proved to be the strongest group in the province as they finished first among their RSEQ rivals, beating out fourth-placed Laval by a margin of 35 points.

Barrett was satisfied with McGill’s finish despite not having a complete squad.

“We were not at full strength. We had a lot of people that couldn’t be around[….] From what we had, and where we were coming from, it was not a bad outing,” Barrett said.

After finishing a strong 2012-2013 season that included multiple podium sweeps and an RSEQ Championship, the women’s cross country team aims to build upon that success this year. Their hopes on repeating as champions rest upon the shoulders of 2012 RSEQ Runner of the Year, Porfilio. However, for the team to secure the title, the influx of freshmen need to likewise perform at a high level.

On the men’s side, the Redmen cross-country team finished sixth of 23 teams this Saturday at Mount Royal. History major, fourth-year Alexander Ray led the way for McGill, coming in 12th place out of 298 runners. Ray finished the six-kilometer race in 19:27, 34 seconds behind first-place runner Dany Racine from Laval.

Freshman Benjamin Forestell (20:05), and sophomore runner Vincent Parent-Pichette (20:11), rounded out the Redmen top three in 28th and 29th place, respectively.

McGill placed behind their top conference rivals for this season, the second-placed Laval Rouge et Or, and the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, who placed fourth overall. Both teams will pose a challenge for the Redmen at the RSEQ and national levels.

Barrett is unsure of whether his squad will have the legs to beat the powerhouse team from Quebec City, but is confident in the team’s ability to challenge Sherbrooke for the runner up spot.

“[Laval was] second or third last year at the National Championships, so they will probably go back and be in the top three again this year[….] We will battle with Sherbrooke, maybe, but I expect Laval to be number one.”

With the slew of new faces that are now running for the Redmen, Barrett believes that the team has enough strength to improve upon their 16th place finish at last year’s CIS Championships.

“We had one of our worst races last year at Nationals, and [with the team] we have this year, we can definitely do better and improve upon that,” he said.

Furthermore, Ray is set to make a big leap this season after a rigorous off-season in which he sought to improve upon his skills as a runner.

“Alex from last year to this year has improved greatly. We need our athletes to train and compete over the summertime, and he did,” Barrett said.

The Martlets and Redmen are set to compete once more on Oct. 5 at the Rouge-et-Or Invitational in their second of five meets this season.

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