By Martin Cleary
The Carleton University women’s cross-country ski team gave an unprecedented and masterful performance at the OUA nordic ski championships in Huntsville this week, winning the maximum number of medals possible for the Ravens in able-bodied racing, which led to the overall gender title.
Ravens skiers swept the medals in individual races on Wednesday and Thursday and grabbed the top-two positions Friday in the relay, where each university could only enter two teams. In the two individual races, Carleton also had the fourth-place skier, which allowed the Ravens to have a perfect placement score of 10 each day in the team standings.
That dominance gave the Ravens the OUA women’s team championship for the 14th time in history and its sixth in the past eight years.
The Ravens also had the top four skiers in the individual overall standings, after the two races, and six in the top 10.
At the OUA banquet, first-year head coach Kevin Shields of Carleton was named the men’s coach of the year based on the nordic competitions in the regular season. John Langstone was the Ravens’ last OUA men’s coach of the year in 2009, and Nicholas Clifford was the women’s coach of the year in 2016.
Not only did the Ravens win gold, silver and bronze medals in each of the two individual races, but also their skiers earned a total of six top-10 finishes in each of the women’s 7.5-kilometre free-technique race and the women’s classic 15-kilometre mass start.
Carleton’s Bronwyn Williams, who competed for Canada at last month’s FISU World Winter University Games in Lake Placid, New York, won the women’s 7.5-kilometre race in 20 minutes, 54.5 seconds. Teammates Maggie McClure and Helen McCulligh, who will race next week for Ontario at the Canada Winter Games, were second and third with respective times of 21:16.4 and 21:18.8.
The Ravens had three more skiers in the top 10 – Kate Mason (fourth, 21:24.6), Emma Holmes (ninth, 22:06.9) and Mallory Williams (10th, 22:26.3).
McClure was the women’s 15-kilometre mass-start champion in 52:37.1, while Mason was second in 52:40.6 and Bronwyn Williams took third in 52:53.1.
Carleton’s other top-10 results came from McCulligh (fourth, 52:53.1), Mallory Williams (eighth, 55:28.1) and Holmes (10th, 56:28.5). University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ Katherine Mason was sixth in 55:14.6 and Erin Dunn placed ninth in 55:31.0.
In the overall individual standings after the two races, Carleton held the top four places – Bronwyn Williams (first, 1:19:57.3 – total time), McClure (second, 1:20:03.3), Kate Mason (third, 1:20:14.9) and McCulligh (fourth, 1:20:22.2). Katherine Mason was uOttawa’s best in eighth at 1:24:06.6.
Williams was the 10th Carleton skier to be the OUA overall women’s champion, after her sister Zoe accomplished that in 2018 and 2019.
Kate Mason, McClure and Bronwyn Williams represented the Carleton A squad and won the gold medal in the 3×3.75-kilometre relay in 28:13.3. The silver medal went to the Carleton B team of McCulligh, Mallory Williams and Holmes in 28:36.1.
The Gee-Gees’ A team of Dunn, Emilie Lum and Katherine Mason was seventh in 31:19.5, while uOttawa B team skiers Anna Heffernan-Wilker, Emma Archibald and Britt Halvorson were 14th in 35:58.3.
Carleton produced the lowest possible score of 20 placement points from its four skiers in the two individual races to capture the women’s team title. Laurentian University Voyageurs were second at 120 points, McMaster University Marauders were third at 158 points and the Gee-Gees took sixth at 176 points.
Archibald, who will represent Nova Scotia next week at the Canada Winter Games in para-cross-country skiing, was a quadruple OUA champion, and also was the only entry in the para women’s standing events.
She won the para standing 7.5-kilometre free race in 29:42.7, the 15-kilometre classic mass start in 1:25:52.4 and teamed with sit-skier and Gee-Gees’ teammate Trinity Lowthian, an accomplished para fencer, to win the relay in 6:44.2. Archibald also was the overall women’s para champion.
As the lone entrant in the para-sit-ski distance race, Lowthian was first in 38:46.6, and second in the mixed ski-ski 2.5-kilometre test in 15:32.1. Lowthian also was the overall women’s para-sit-ski champion.
Lakehead University Thunderwolves defended their OUA men’s team title with 48 points, while Carleton and Ottawa were second and third with respective point totals of 81 and 99. The bronze medal for Ottawa was a best-ever result.
Aidan Kirkham, who also competed for Canada at the FISU World Winter University Games, was the silver medallist in the men’s 7.5-kilometre free race, in 17:30.8, while teammate Edward Southward was fifth in 18:40.9. Kirkham missed the gold medal by 1.5 seconds.
Carleton skiers Colin Ward and Devon Pegrum were ninth and 10th respectively in 19:07.6 and 19:10.9.
In the men’s 15-kilometre classic mass start, Kirkham was fourth in 43:24.7, Pegrum took fifth in 45:29.8, Southward stopped in sixth in 45:32.1, Ward placed seventh in 46:38.5 and Nathan Hay of Carleton was ninth in 46:53.0.
Kirkham, a three-time OUA men’s champion (2018-20) when he attended Carleton University, finished second overall in the individual race standings with a total time of 1:09:11.1, while Southward finished fifth in 1:12:28.6. Carleton teammates Pegrum and Ward were sixth and seventh respectively in 1:12:56.4 and 1:14:01.7, while Hay took 10th in 1:15:00.0.
The uOttawa A team of Southward, Evan Kealey and Kirkham placed second in the men’s 3×3.75-kilometre relay in 24:52.4, while the Carleton A squad of Ward, Ogen Newcomb and Pegrum was fourth in 25:26.0.
The Carleton B team of Jake Littlejohn, Hay and Raphael Guerout was sixth in 26:39.9. The uOttawa B squad of Riley de Gans, Samuel Aslan and Alexander Randall took 13th in 30:02.2.
NEPEAN, GLEBE STRIKE RELAY GOLD AT OFSAA NORDIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association athletes won three gold and two silver medals at the OFSAA provincial high school cross-country skiing championships in Lakefield.
The Ottawa region made its biggest impact in Friday’s relays as Glebe won the girls’ senior race and Nepean captured the boys’ junior event as well as placing second in the boys’ senior competition.
A.Y. Jackson’s Graeme Abbott won the boys’ open senior race in 20 minutes, 9.8 seconds. Noah Vanderzon of West Carleton was fourth in 20:44.5 and Eric Piercy of Sacred Heart took seventh in 21:44.3.
Wesley Bartlett of John McCrae was the silver medallist in the boys’ high-school division junior race in 17:39.9. West Carleton’s Daniel Meisenheimer was sixth in 18:08.6.
Claire Allan, Mallory Jansen, Marika Wechsler and Ciara Westdal teamed to bring Glebe the gold medal in the girls’ senior relay in 11:36.5, which was 70.5 seconds ahead of runner-up Lo-Ellen Park.
The Nepean team of Cordon Hawkes, Robin Daniels, James Fee and Andrei Hovorka gave Nepean the gold medal in the boys’ junior relay in 11:17.2. They edged St. Mary’s DCVI by four-tenths of a second for the top spot.
Nepean’s second relay medal came in the boys’ senior race, when Evan Hovorka, Saer Edwards, Pierce Lindsay and Duncan McKay earned the silver in 10:10.7. Colonel By’s team of Sebastien Lacasse, Aidan Ng-A-Fook, Spencer Holman and Matthew Chen were sixth in 12:19.1.
In the girls’ senior open individual race, Anna Semeniuk of St. Pius X was sixth in 23:24.5, while Elsie Hawkes of Nepean was seventh in 24:44.1, Allan took ninth in 25:00.2 and Jansen was 10th in 25:06.6.
Matthew Hicks of A.Y. Jackson scored a fourth-place finish in the boys’ junior open race in 16:03.9, while Cordon Hawkes of Nepean took seventh in 16:38.8 and Daniels was eighth in 16:50.0.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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