Ali Baggott, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men's cross country team finished third at the Vikes Cross Country Invitational on Oct. 14 at Beacon Hill Park – the test event for the upcoming U SPORTS national championship on Nov. 12. A field of 40 men raced the 10-km course in 2-km loops.
UBC's John Gay finished first overall in 31:10.11, while fellow T-Birds Jesse Hooton and Max Trummer finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to give UBC the top 10-km team time. The Thunderbirds, however, compete in the NAIA and won't be at the U SPORTS championship in less than a month's time.
"The team's strength is its depth so in that sense if they run together they support each other," said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner about the majority of the Vikes finishing together. "They pace themselves. If you're running with the top group then, yes, you are racing against everybody but if you're not up there then it's running a smart, well-paced race and you're going to place much better in the long run."
Vike Jonny Toombs was the top runner finishing sixth in 31:54.80. From there it was a near-pack finish as Derrick Evans was ninth in 32:12.63 and Joshua Kozelj, Brandon Vail and Matthew Noseworthy were 14th, 16th and 17th, respectively. Vikes Thomas Oxland and Alex Nemethy were 19th and 20th, receptively.
Today marked the first time the Vikes have hosted a cross country race in Victoria since 1997 and although it had been 10 years since a university race has been held at Beacon Hill Park there was no shortage of supporters and alumni flocking to the familiar racing scene to help out or cheer on the Vikes.
"Most of our volunteers today were alumni going all the way back to before I can remember so it was great to see them come out and help," added Fougner who had former Vikes like Alicia Roske, Claire Jean, Kyle Irvine, Kendra Pomfret, Adam Gaudes and Thomas Riva on site today as course marshals. "The weekend of Nov. 11-12 we have tonnes of alumni events happening on the Saturday with the Thetis Lake relay going to an evening social and then going to support our teams on Sunday for their races."
Up next the Vikes will prepare for the BC University Championships on Oct. 30 in Abbotsford, B.C., while they will be aiming to peak for the U SPORTS Championship on Nov. 12 at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.