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Mitch Ubene of Guelph pulls off the upset to win the men’s U Sports title

Ubene wins his first U Sports XC title in remarkable fashion

Mitch Ubene of Guelph University showed Canada that he is the king of cross-country, winning the 2021 U Sports men’s title on the Plains of Abraham from behind in remarkable fashion. 

The race got off to a hot start, with around 20 men establishing themselves in the front pack through the first four kilometres. The pace was pushed at the front by UBC’s Thomas Nobbs, leading the race through 6K in just over 18 minutes. Many of the favourites began struggling to hold on, with only Ubene and Laval’s Thomas Fafard on his tail. During the final kilometre, Ubene made a move on the back half of the course that gave him a gap over Fafard and Nobbs and led him to his first U Sports Cross-Country title.

Thomas Nobbs, Thomas Fafard and Mitch Ubene. Photo: Canadian Running

As Ubene crossed the finish line, he let out a scream, knowing he won the title. It was sweet redemption after his only hiccup of the season came in his last race, OUA’s, where he was second.

Laval’s Jessy Lacourse wins double gold at the 2021 U Sports XC Championship

Nobbs, who led the 8K race for seven kilometres, ended up finishing sixth in 24:41.

The course was a hilly two-kilometre loop around the Plains of Abraham, which runners had to complete four times.

Men’s U Sports XC Championship preview and predictions

U Sports men’s 8K results (top five)

  1. Mitch Ubene (Guelph) – 24:27
  2. Thomas Fafard (Laval) – 24:28
  3. Jean-Simon Desgagnés (Laval) – 24:30
  4. Andrew Davies (McMaster) – 24:38
  5. John Perrier (Guelph) – 28:40
Photo: Canadian Running

The men of Laval’s Rouge-et-Or, who have been calling themselves ‘the gorillas’ all season, showed us why they are the kings of the jungle. Laval’s big three of Desgagnés, Fafard and Jonathan Tedeschi all placed in the top 11. Philippe Morneau-Cartier, Laval’s fourth runner to finish, stepped it up when Laval needed it the most, finishing 21st, to help them score a low 62. Laval edged the top-ranked Guelph team out by five points to win the men’s team gold. McMaster won bronze, getting their men’s team back on the podium.

WATCH: Over-celebrating almost costs cross country runner the race

U Sports men’s team results (top five)

  1. Laval (62 points)
  2. Guelph (67 points)
  3. McMaster (79 points)
  4. UBC (105 points)
  5. Queen’s (187 points)

You can view all the results from the 2021 U Sports Cross-Country Championship here.