By Earl Zukerman
Jessica Porfilio of Longueuil, Que., finished second overall, leading McGill to the Quebec women’s cross-country running championship in cold, rainy and windy conditions at Le Club de Golf de Sherbrooke, Saturday.
It was the fourth straight conference title for the Martlets, who missed capturing the provincial crown in 2009 after winning it for 20 consecutive seasons from 1988 to 2007.
Porfilio, a third-year nursing major, completed the six-kilometre race in 23 minutes, 1.2 seconds. She trailed UQTR’s Sarah Bergeron-Larouche who finished first of 78 runners overall in 22:31. McGill’s Jullien Flynn, a biology junior from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., also reached the podium, claiming bronze in 23:17.
“Our women came up big today with a pretty convincing win,” said McGill mentor Dennis Barrett, who collected RSEQ coach-of-the-year honours for the 24th time in his 26 years. “We hadn’t lost a meet to our conference opponents this season but have battled all year with a strong Sherbrooke team and nothing is ever a foregone conclusion.
“The key for us this year is that both our conference championship and the CIS Nationals have been extended from a 5k distance to a 6k race. Our girls are not necessarily that speedy over 5k but we feel that they are stronger and can maintain a good pace over a longer distance and it showed in the two 6k races that we ran this year. The 6k really seems to be better-suited for Jessica. She had a very good run and was really happy with her performance.”
The Martlets also placed runners in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh spots to earn 21 points. Sherbrooke finished second with 66, followed by Laval (85), UQTR (101), Concordia (135), UQAM (163) and UQAC (208).
Other McGill scorers included two freshmen – Alison Barwick (4th, 23:20) of Pte. Claire, Que., and Georgia Hamilton (5th, 23:22) of Orillia, Ont., – as well as veteran Madeleine Williams (7th, 23:38), a third-year law student from Edmonton, Alta.
The top seven runners in the meet each earned all-conference status. Joining the five McGill women was the aforementioned Bergeron-Larouche and Sherbrooke’s Laura-Emilie Cyr (6th, 23:33).
McGill will be sending seven runners to the CIS championships in London, Ont., Nov. 9. The group also includes Evelyn Anderson (8th; 23:43) of Calgary and Emma Norman (10th, 23:47) of Ayers Cliff, Que.
On the men’s side, Laval cruised to an easy victory, with the top 13 finishers.
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot won the 10k race in 32:10, finishing first of 82 entries. He was followed atop the podium by teammates Benjamin Raymond (32:25) and Emmanuel Boisvert (32:26).
Joining those three as conference all-stars were Laval teammates Anthony Larouche (4th), Alexandre Ricard (5th), Nicolas Morin (6th) and Jean-Samuel Lapointe (7th).
Vincent Parent-Pichette, a physical education sophomore from St. Paul de Joliette, Que., was McGill’s top runner, clocking in at 34:36 to finish 15th overall.
Other Redmen in the scoring were Ian Richardson (20th, 35:14) from The Woodlands, Texas, Alexander Ray (21st, 35:21) of Montreal, Michael Abramson (26th, 35:44) of Westmount, Que., and Francois Boisvert (28th, 35:52) of Repentigny, Que.
Those five will represent McGill at Nationals along with Reda Sarhani (35th, 36:30), a fourth-year medical student from Montreal and freshman Christian Favreau (40th, 36:54) of Vancouver, B.C.
In the team scoring, Laval tallied 15 points, the best possible score. Sherbrooke finished a distant second with 68 points, followed by McGill (70), UQTR (109), Concordia (155), UQAC (156) and UQAM (199).