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St. F.X. cross country team racing to nationals

Antigonish native Paul MacLellan of the St. F.X. X-Men finished second in the AUS cross country championships men’s race. James West
Antigonish native Paul MacLellan of the St. F.X. X-Men finished second in the AUS cross country championships men’s race. James West - Corey LeBlanc

X-Men, X-Women finish second in AUS championships

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

The St. F.X. cross country program – both the X-Men and X-Women – will compete on the national stage next weekend.    

The White and Blue will be at the start line for the U Sports championship meet Saturday (Nov. 9) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.    

“It is going to be a great experience,” St. F.X. head coach Eric Gillis said.    

He noted the goal is top-10 finishes.    

“We are going to see how high up the rankings we can go.”

Silver lining    

The X-Men and X-Women punched their tickets to the U Sports championship weekend with their silver medal-winning performances in the AUS final in Fredericton.    

In the women’s 8k race, Jane Hergett clocked a 30:23, which placed her second – 20 seconds behind winner Jade Roberts of the Memorial University SeaHawks.                 

“She has moved to a new level,” Gillis said of his student-athlete.    

Jane Hergett raced to second place for the St. F.X. X-Women in the conference championship meet. James West
Jane Hergett raced to second place for the St. F.X. X-Women in the conference championship meet. James West

Antigonish native Paige Chisholm also garnered a top-five spot (fifth) for the White and Blue, in a time of 30:58, which was a personal best (PB).    

There was also a PB for Ashley Robson, who placed just outside the top-10 (11th), in 32:04.    

“They have made great progress,” Gillis added.    

He also praised the performance of second-year runner Breanna Sandluck, who clocked 32:58.    

“She stepped up her game,” Gillis said, adding Sandluck reached a “new level of fitness” this season.    

He noted her performance in the St. F.X. Invitational helped set the stage for her campaign.    

The Dalhousie Tigers won the AUS championship banner, finishing with 49 points, followed by St. F.X. (61) and Memorial (73).    

“I am very pleased. We were in the ballpark. We gave Dal a good push, but we came up just short,” Gillis said of the team’s finish against the perennial power.    

He noted the X-Women were co-favourites heading into the championship meet, a standing that steadily developed since the start of the season.    

On the men’s side, fifth-year runner Paul MacLellan – a native of Antigonish – was the second athlete to cross the finish line.    

He clocked a 25:18, trailing race winner Andrew Peveril of the Saint Mary’s Huskies by 22 seconds.    

“Paul really stepped up this season, and he has been rewarded,” Gillis said.    

Freshman Jacob Benoit finished third, in 25:45, for the X-Men.    

“Jacob had a phenomenal,” Gillis said.    

“He is very talented; even more talented than I expected.”    

Getting back to reaching that “next level of fitness,” Gillis applied that label to sophomore Graydon Staples, already “an elite level” cyclist, who finished in 27:02.    

With 40 points, the Dalhousie Tigers raced to first place, followed by the X-Men (51) and UNB Reds (68).    

“We were really grateful,” Gillis said of the fan contingent that made the trip to Fredericton to support the X-Women and X-Men.    

And, he reminded them, that the future is bright.    

“We have a lot of good young talent,” Gillis said.

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