By Earl Zukerman
Caroline Pfister finished first of 98 entries as the No.5-ranked McGill women’s cross-country running team captured the Vert & Or Open meet in Sherbrooke on Saturday.
It was the second victory in three meets for the McGill women, who posted a perfect score of 15 points, sweeping the top five spots in the four-kilometre race held at the Andre Nadeau nature park. The host Sherbrooke squad finished a distant second of eight teams with 71 points.
Pfister, a 20-year-old architecture freshman from Sherbrooke, won her first competition in three tries at the university level in front of her hometown friends and family, clocking in at 14 minutes, 29 seconds. She finished 14 seconds ahead of teammate Jessica Porfilio, a sophomore from Longueuil, Que. Madeleine Cummings, a senior from Toronto grabbed the last spot on the podium in 14:44, followed by Evelyn Anderson (14:53) of Calgary and Jullien Flynn (14:57) of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
“Caroline ran at a very steady pace,” said McGill head coach Dennis Barrett of his prized recruit who has represented Canada at several international age-class competitions. “She didn’t get off to a fast start but gradually worked her way to the front of the pack to grab the lead on the second loop and never looked back. She is just rounding into form and has looked better in each race. I’m quite pleased that she chose to run for McGill and she tells me that she likes her classes and is really enjoying the team atmosphere here.”
The Martlets were without the services of team captain Sarah McCuaig, one of their top runners who has battled illness and injuries over the past year. She made the trip but was told not to run by Coach Barrett as she has been battling a stubborn chest cold for the past few weeks.
On the men’s side, Laval placed first of six teams with 28 points, followed by Sherbrooke (46), UQAM (96), UQTR (106) and McGill (119). Laval’s Anthony Larouche topped the 70-man entry list to claim the individual title. He completed the 8k course in 26:23. Philippe Soucy of UQAM was second in 26:25 and Sherbrooke’s Alex Mavrovic posted a bronze-medal time of 26:33.
McGill’s best performance was by Charles Litwin, a first-year pre-med student from Montreal, who placed eighth in 27:04. Rounding out the top five Redmen scorers was Michael Abramson (11th, 27:26) of Westmount, Que., Scott Harvey (28th, 29:27) of Pte. Claire, Que., Laurent Gervais-Robert (35th; 30:18) of Brossard, Que., and Toronto-born Stephen Keefe (37th, 32:09).
McGill has two meets remaining before the league championship and will compete at the Laval Open in Quebec City, Oct. 6.