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2023 Women's Cross Country Season Preview

2023 Women's Cross Country Season Preview

The Dalhousie Tigers' Women's cross country team is coming off an AUS second-place finish with a young team, ready to compete for a medal once again in 2023.

Last season, the Tigers entered the season looking forward to the U SPORTS Championship being hosted on home soil in Halifax. Dalhousie had a strong season leading up to the event, finishing second, second, and sixth as a team in the three invitationals before the AUS Championships. The Tigers finished the team standings in second place at the event in Charlottetown, PEI with Lauren Lowther and Danielle Keefe putting in a fantastic effort to finish in fifth and sixth, respectively to be named AUS all-stars. Sofia Day and Jayne Borrens crossed the line in 16th and 17th, while Hannah Trites, Molly Pert and Mackenzie Kitchen placed in 23rd, 25th, and 27th respectively.

Two weeks later, at the U SPORTS Championships, the Tigers team put up another respectable showing, finishing in 19th despite the conditions of Tropical Storm Nicole.

Head Coach Rich Lehman knows it may be an uphill battle at times with such a young group but is excited about the challenge.

"Our women's team is very young. Our varsity roster will probably include at least three or four rookies, so they're going to need some time to adjust to this level of training and competition."

"They'll also be racing 8km for the first time this season, so we're trying not to put a ton of pressure on them to perform immediately", he continues. "We will contend for a team medal at AUS but we're probably a few years away from making a run at a banner. I'm really excited about working with this group."

Including a promising rookie class, the Tigers have a few returning runners Coach Lehman knows he can rely on for leadership.

“Hannah has been a team captain since her second year and Danielle is our top returning runner from last year. We'll be leaning on the two of them to help guide our group of rookies through their first season.”

Danielle Keefe, who raced to sixth place at last year’s AUS Championship, is looking forward to being a leader on this team.

“As a fourth year, I am trying my best to make the rookies feel welcome and excited to be a part of our team! Being a strong role model for them is super important to me and helping them in their transition year in any way they need is definitely my priority.”

Talking about the rookies, Coach Lehman knows there is high potential in the runners.

“All of them have very high upsides, but Maisyn Battams in particular looks like she is set up to be one of the top first years in the conference.”

The Tigers kick off their schedule on September 9th when they travel to Antigonish to participate in the first event of the year, the STFX Invitational. The next race is in Wolfville on September 23rd for the Acadia Invitational. The final race is on October 7th in Fredericton, as the Tigers travel for the UNB Invitational. Then the AUS Championships come back to Halifax, being held at Point Pleasant Park on October 28th.

The team will then come back home to prepare for the U SPORTS championships on November 11th at Western University.

“I am also looking forward to having the AUS championship hosted here in Halifax.”, says Keefe. “I know the energy on race day will be even more special than years past with the support from fellow students and community”.