Running ahead: Katie Rice defends her OCAA title

Katie Rice (pictured) finished with the gold medal at the OCAA championships with a time of 23:28.

Fanshawe’s Katie Rice has officially defended her OCAA gold medal title for women’s cross country.

Rice became the sixth person, and the first since 2018, to successfully defend the number one title.

Prior to the championships, Rice had completed a large accomplishment in finishing the regular season with a perfect record and winning all three invitational meets.

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At the OCAA Cross Country Championships hosted by Conestoga College at Shade’s Mills Conservation Area in Cambridge, the third-year runner won the title, with both Fanshawe’s men’s and women’s teams finishing with the silver medal.

She took the lead in the 6km race with a time of 23:28, over 17 seconds faster than the next placed runner.

Along with Rice, other runners on the women’s team included Katie Funk who finished in 11th place with a time of 25:40, Grace Boyce who finished in 15th place with a time of 26:01, Brooke Jez who finished in 23rd place with a time of 26:57, and Allyson Kwarciak who finished in 31st place with a time of 28:18.

Fanshawe collected 41 points, five points ahead of the third place Mohawk Mountaineers.

Following their result, Rice was named to the All-Ontario First Team and Funk was named to the All-Ontario Second Team.

With the win, Rice has now won five straight OCAA competitions dating back to last season’s 2022 OCAA championships, now including the three invitationals and this year’s championship.

After leading the way at provincials, Rice, along with both the men’s and women’s teams, punched their tickets to the CCAA National Cross Country Championships hosted by Dalhousie Agricultural College in Truro, Nova Scotia.

Against runners from across the country, Rice would end up finishing at number 11 with a time of 23:12.

Funk would finish 38th with a time of 25:01, Boyce finished 51st with a time of 25:48, Jez finished 81st with a time of 28:02, and Kwarciak would finish 85th with a time of 28:30.

The wins for both Rice, the women’s team, and the men’s team have secured the college with their second and third CCAA national championship appearance. They are joined by just the men’s golf team this season.

With the season now wrapped up for the team, Rice along with the other runners now enter their off-season, with plenty of training, reflecting, and resting to come.