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Queen’s Gaels believe this is the year they win the cross-country gold medal

Queen's will host the U-Sport cross-country championships on historic Fort Henry Hill.

For the second year in a row, Kingston and Queen’s University will host the Canadian U-Sport Cross Country Championships on historic Fort Henry Hill.

“I think it’s the best course in the country,” said Queen’s coach Steve Boyd.

This is Boyd’s 10th year running the cross-country program at Queen’s and he constantly raves about the layout on Fort Henry Hill.

“There is a reason why so many competitive events are held on this course,” said Boyd.

“Kingston has hosted provincial, national and world championships. We’ve had multiple OUA (Ontario University Athletics) events on Fort Henry Hill and once again we welcome the best U-Sport athletes in the country. It’s our home course and I believe it gives us a huge advantage.”

READ MORE: Kingston duo takes on Canada’s best runners at U-Sports Cross Country Championships

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Queen’s athletes are familiar with the course and nobody knows the layout better than Kingston’s own Branna MacDougall.

“I’ve been running on this course since Grade 3,” said MacDougall.

The fourth-year engineering student hopes to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish. MacDougall says the ultimate goal is to win the overall team championship. The Gaels have finished second at the U-Sport nationals three years in a row. Last year they lost out to the University of Laval.

“Of course I want to win the individual race and that will help the team in the overall standings,” continued MacDougall.

“Were favoured to win but everybody has to do their part. I know what this team is capable of doing. If we all run the way we can, I believe we can win the gold medal.

“My sister Brogan won the gold medal last year, but as a team, we weren’t able to catch Laval in overall points. Finishing second hurt. We don’t want to feel that way again.”

READ MORE: It was a season to remember for Kingston’s Brogan MacDougall

Boyd is confident that this is the year both teams reach the podium.

“I believe the girls can win and if the men race to the best of their abilities, I think they have a shot at a medal.”

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The women’s race begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The men’s race will start at 2 p.m.