The Gee-Gees cross country competition schedule begins this weekend at McGill. The team will compete in a total of five events leading up to the U SPORTS National Championships on Nov. 9, which will be held for the second straight year in Kingston, Ont.
Ottawa returns 10 members from last year's squad, with the addition of three newcomers giving the team a chance to build from last year. The consistent top finishers and team MVPs from last season, Rebecca Brennan and Nicholas Roberts, both return.
Brennan, a social sciences major from Ottawa, is in her fifth year of competition in Garnet and Grey. She won a gold medal at the 2019 Canadian Track and Field Championships as part of the Ottawa Lions 4x400m team and should fare well at McGill's 4km women's course.
This year marks a return to the McGill open for the Gee-Gees as they skipped the event last season. However, it has traditionally been the opening event of the Cross Country season. Keili Shepherd began her Gee-Gees career at the event, earning the top finish for the Garnet and Grey in 2017 at 15th overall with a time of 15:43. Women's team members Madison Clarke and Jennifer Dumoulin ran the course at Mount Royal Park in 2017, along with Brennan so the team will bring good course knowledge despite not running it last season.
André-Alie Lamarche has also ran the course at Mount Royal – while he was still in high school he represented the Ottawa Lions club in 2017 and placed 21st overall. Nicholas Roberts placed 33rd that season, which was his sophomore campaign with uOttawa.
"Working together as a team is key for us. It's about growing together – we've known each-other since high school and it's good to see everyone's progress," said Roberts at the end of last season. "People can come out of high school as not necessarily a top athlete and then really progress in University if they're in the right environment."
A key indicator for the Ottawa men's team will be the placements compared to McGill and Sherbrooke as the season unfolds.
The men's team welcomes Paul Bates of Inverary, Ont., Luke Jones of Tamworth, UK who previously attended the University of Birmingham, and on the women's side Hanna Frazer of Whitby, Ont. rounds out the rookie class this year.