The 2022 U Sports cross-country season is officially in full swing, and many of the top teams in the country have competed once or twice to shake off the summer rust.
All roads lead to the 2022 U Sports Championships in Halifax on Nov. 12. Let’s get things started with our second edition of the U Sports XC power rankings, looking at the top 10 women’s teams in the country, in addition to some projections of the U Sports top-five athletes come November, based on performance.
10. Montreal Carabins (RSEQ) -1
The Carabins showed great potential to start the season, finishing third at the McGill Invite in Montreal behind Laval and Queens. Rookie Marine Garnier emerges as an early bid for rookie of the year with a fifth-overall finish in her first university race. Although it’s still early in the season, the Carabins need a fifth runner to help the top four.
9. Toronto Varsity Blues (OUA) +1
There aren’t many expectations for this young Varsity Blues squad this season, but they put in a good performance at the Western Invite, placing fifth. The Varsity Blues have an above-average top seven that can consistently perform, regardless of the course or conditions. I think they could catch a few teams off-guard this season, as they almost did to the third-ranked Western women at the Western Invite.
8. Saskatchewan Huskies (CanWest) -3
The Huskies are one of the few teams in the country who have not competed yet. They will host the Sled Dog Open on Oct. 1, with 2021 fifth-place U Sports XC finisher Kaitlyn Harrison leading the way.
7. Queen’s Gaels (OUA) +1
The Gaels put up a solid second-place finish at the McGill open behind top-ranked Laval. Manon Plouvier led the way for the Gaels, with a seventh-place finish in Montreal, after missing last year’s U Sports XC season with an injury. It’ll be interesting to see how this team fares against OUA competition, but we likely won’t see them compete against the top OUA teams until McMaster’s Bayfront Open on Oct. 14.
6. St. Francis Xavier X-Women (AUS) +1
The X-Women started the 2022 season with a bang, placing eight women in the top 10 at their season opener in Antigonish, N.S., to take the win in AUS conference action and gain one spot in our rankings. Eileen Benoit and Allie Sandluck led the way, tying for the win over 8K. The X-Women will head south of the border to Lehigh University in Pennslyvania to compete this weekend, then take on the Carabins and the Rouge-et-Or at the Interlock meet on Oct. 8.
5. Western Mustangs (OUA) -2
Despite missing two top runners, the Mustangs still fell short of expectations at their Western Invite meet. Even with the two missing runners, the drop-off to the fifth runner is too much to contend with OUA rivals McMaster and Guelph. Hopefully, it’s only up from here for the Mustangs, who find themselves down two spots.
4. McMaster Marauders (OUA) +2
The Marauders gain two spots after a solid third-place performance by their squad at the Western Invite. Hannah Goodjohn led the way, finishing third overall. Goodjohn has continued to improve throughout her first two seasons with McMaster, and will be one to watch in meets to come. The Mauraders will look to take the win in OUA action at the Don Olson Classic on Oct. 2 in Waterloo, Ont.
3. UBC Thunderbirds (CanWest) +1
The Thunderbirds women’s team is up one spot after beating UBC Okanagan in their head-to-head race at the Vancouver Spirit Run at Jericho Beach. Guelph transfer Kiana Gibson led the way for UBC, winning the 8K race in 30:18. UBC placed five runners in the top six to take top honours over UBC Okanagan. They will next be in action at the TWU Invite on Oct. 8.
2. Guelph Gryphons (OUA) 0
The Guelph women’s team had a solid start to the XC season, beating the top-ranked Laval to win the Western Invite. Who knew Hannah Woodhouse had more eligibility… Not us. Woodhouse placed fifth overall at the Western Invite and will be a giant addition to this deep Guelph team. The Gryphons will join the sixth-ranked StFX at Lehigh University this weekend.
1. Laval Rouge-et-Or (RSEQ) 0
The Rouge-et-Or is one of the few teams who have already competed twice this season. Laval won the McGill open with Catherine Beauchemin and Jade Bérubé going one-two in Montreal. Beauchemin sat out for the Western Invite the following week, but Bérubé took over, winning the 8K race by half a minute.
Their top-five runners could all be in the top 15 at U Sports, and their top runner Jessy Lacourse hasn’t even run this season. Lacourse is listed to make her season debut at Laval’s RSEQ Interlock meet on Oct. 8.
Individual title Top 5:
- Jessy Lacourse (Laval)
- Catherine Beauchemin (Laval)
- Kiana Gibson (UBC)
- Jade Bérubé (Laval)
- Hannah Woodhouse (Guelph)