Angus Rawling fashioned a golden race in the recent Atlantic University Sport (AUS) cross country championships.
The third-year St. F.X. X-Men runner raced to top spot in the men’s 10k, with a 31:43.55 clocking, Oct. 28, on the Hennigar’s Farm course in Wolfville.
“I opened up my stride and I was able to get a bit of a gap,” the Calgary native said of the move he made, on a downhill stretch, around the midway point of the race.
Up until then, Rawling noted, he and teammate Alex Neuffer, along with former X-Men Cal Dewolfe (Dalhousie) and Lee Wesselius (UPEI), were “hanging together” at the front of the field.
“I just tried to hang on,” Rawling said, with a laugh, in describing the remaining distance.
He noted he “wasn’t feeling great” during the first kilometre.
“I thought they were going to take it to me,” he said of his competitors.
Rawling, who garnered AUS athlete of the year honours, led the X-Men to a second-place finish.
Neuffer claimed the silver medal (31:58.00), while Antigonish native Paul MacLellan (32:57.12) and Addison Derhak (33:50.80) raced to sixth and 11th, respectively.
“We are super proud. We are young and we knew it would be a long shot to beat a veteran Dalhousie team,” Rawling said.
Veteran head coach Bernie Chisholm, in his final season, said the X-Men fashioned “an exceptional performance.”
“Which, I think, was a surprise to everyone but us, and we made it close,” he added.
Noting the strong races from MacLellan and Derhak, he agreed the X-Men gave the Tigers a scare, finishing only seven points behind the champions.
“We were a little disappointed, because we knew we were going to be close, but we still had a great performance,” Rawling said.
Chisholm said the X-Men’s 1-2 punch ran a “great race.”
“They were fantastic,” he added of Rawling and Neuffer.
As for MacLellan and Derhak, Chisholm noted it was “their best race in a St. F.X. uniform.”
“They did very, very well,” he said of that pair.
Considering the entire X-Men side can return next season, Chisholm noted, it “augers well” for the program.
The X-Women also captured second place in their team competition, with Liz MacDonald (31:30.7) and Antigonish native Rachel MacDougall (31:39.4) finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
“They came through – it was a really gutsy performance, on a tough course,” Chisholm said of the X-Women.
“It was a tough course and they gave everything they had.”
He added MacDonald was “fantastic,” while MacDougall “stepped up big time.”
MacDonald (hip) was one of the X-Women runners who came into the race with injuries, joining Zoe Johnston (possible stress fracture) and Catherine Thompson (foot).
“They toughed it out,” Chisholm noted.
Johnston (33:24.2) and Thompson (35:03.5) finished 16th and 22nd, respectively.
“She has been fighting through and working her way back to form,” Chisholm said of Antigonish native Hana Marmura, who had surgery on both legs after last season.
She crossed the finish line in 33:43.7 (18th).
Chisholm was “very pleased” with both teams.
“It was their best races of the season,” he said.
Along with Rawling, Marmura was honoured with a major conference award (Student-Athlete Community Service).
The third-year human kinetics student, an academic All-Canadian, has extensive volunteer resume, which includes serving as a chemistry tutor at St. F.X.’s Student Success Centre and as a note-taker at St. F.X.’s Accessible Learning Centre.
MacDonald and MacDougall received all-star recognition for the X-Women, while Rawling, Neuffer and MacLellan accomplished the feat on the men’s side.
Those five runners will represent St. F.X. this weekend in the U SPORTS Championship at the University of Victoria.