Hardy defends crown to earn showdown with country's best

Dave Kearsey
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Deer Lake’s Melissa Hardy has been gradually carving a name for herself in just two years competing at the varsity level with the St. Francis Xavier University X-Women running team.

ANTIGONISH, N. S. — Melissa Hardy snagged three medals to help the St. Francis Xavier X-Women to a second-place finish overall at the Atlantic University Sport track and field championships in Moncton.

Hardy, the 2013 AUS individual cross-country running champion, successfully defended her 3,000 metre crown with a final clocking of 10:09.76 on the track at the Universite de Moncton.

A native of Deer Lake, Hardy was beaten in the home stretch in defence of her 1,500 metre title by fellow X-Women star Liz O’Connell who won her first-ever AUS individual gold medal.

With a gold and silver to dangle around her neck, Hardy rounded out the collection with a bronze medal as a member of the 4x800m relay team that also included O’Connell, Kathyrn Tuck and Beth MacDonald.

Hardy was pleased to win gold in defence of her 3,000-m crown because it helped her earn a berth in the Canadian Intercollegiate Sport track and field championships this weekend at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She was also pretty cool about having to settle for silver in the 1,500-m against one of her teammates because she knows how hard O’Connell worked all season long and she remembers what was like to win her first AUS crown so she opted to share in the victory.

“I was a second off a personal best and she did run a personal best, and she passed me in about the last 30 metres or so,” Hardy said Monday. “I didn’t mind. She was wearing a St. F. X. singlet so I was happy to see her win her first-ever AUS medal. I felt good for me to see it because she deserved it. She came a long way this season.”

The X-Women tallied 118 total points, just 17 shy of first-place Dalhousie Tigers (135) who claimed the AUS championship banner. The University of New Brunswick managed to snag third on the women’s side with 45 points garnered.

Hardy and company left Moncton with a record-high 16 AUS medals with seven gold, four silver and five bronze to show off to family and friends.

Hardy will represent the AUS in the 3,000-m race Friday in Edmonton and she plans on giving it her best like she’s done every other time she puts on her running shoes.

The 22-year-old daughther of Deer Lake’s Peter and Beverly Hardy knows she will be in tough against a field of strong female runners from across the country, but that’s just fine with her.

“It definitely gets tougher looking into the CIS, but I’m just going into it with an open attitude and going to leave it all out there I guess,” she said.

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