A “dedicated bunch” is how head coach Ross Risstuccia described the men’s and women’s cross country teams. 

“They take the time day in and day out,” he said. Throughout the season, both teams have shown strong results.

Although the men’s team did not qualify for the Canadian Intercollegiate Sport (CIS) championships, Risstuccia acknowledged the effort the team gave in each race. “They have shown dedication and perseverance this season,” he said.

At the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship, the men’s team placed seventh. The team was lead by third-year Sacha Smart and fifth-year Zain Ahmed, as well as first-year Riley Alvarez. Many of the athletes compete primarily in track and field and will be focusing on that in the upcoming months to prepare for that season. 

As the men’s season has come to an end, the women continue their season for one final race. The team’s accomplishments this season include first and second place finishes, and a fourth place finish at the OUA championships. 

The team is lead by second-year Gabriela Stafford, who placed first at two seasonal races and second at the OUA championships. 

The women’s team has combined to finish races in the top 15 individually and will try to continue these times for the CIS Championships.

Risstuccia understands that the women have it cut out for them at the finals, but despite their strong competition, the team’s goal is to be on the podium. 

“We have to perform the day of,” said Risstuccia. “Anything can happen. Our results at OUA’s show we have the talent… [and] the OUA is known to have some of the strongest runners.”  

The main competition for the University of Toronto will be the University of Guelph, who finished first in the OUA championship, and Trinity Western University, a strong team from British Columbia.

Regardless of the placing this season, the coaches Risstuccia and assistant coach and physiotherapist Terry Radchenko are proud of their runners. “The two teams are representing U of T well,” said Risstuccia.

The runners have similar sentiments to share about their coaches. Stafford has been working with Radchenko since high school. She has attributed much of her success to the two coaches.

“Honestly, not enough can be said about how supportive and caring Terry and Ross are as coaches. Being a part of this team is something really special,” said Stafford.

On November 8, the women’s team will compete at Memorial University in St John’s, Newfoundland for the CIS Championships. The women will compete in the 6-kilometre race and vie for a podium finish.