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Saskatoon (ISN) – Vikes athletes won five gold medals on day one of the two day Canada West Indoor Track and Field Championships.

The UVic Vikes men’s and women’s track teams paced the Canada West Championships, hosted by the Saskatchewan Huskies, on day one of the two day event with five gold medal finishes. Despite the impressive start, the No. 5 ranked Huskies currently lead the ranks for the women, with 58.5 points, while the Calgary Dinos sit atop the men’s standings, with 40 points.

The Vikes men were led on day one by senior Clifford Childs (Kelowna, BC) who finished the 3000-metre race in 8:30.80, ahead of the Dinos’ Curtis Merry (8:31.16) and UVic rookie and bronze medallist Ryan Cassidy (Grande-Digue, NB) in 8:31.80. Junior Doug Oxland (Nanaimo, BC) finished fourth with a personal best of 8:31.99 and Dylan Haight (Victoria, BC) finished in sixth with a time of 8:39.51.

The 1000-metre race was led by sophomore Thomas Riva (Qualicum, BC) with an impressive time of 2:29.22, just ahead of senior Kyle Irvine (Smithers, BC), who won silver, with a time of 2:30.64.

Rounding up the gold medal tallies for the Vikes men was the 4 x 800m relay team of Adam Gaudes(Winnipeg, Man.), Karl Robertson (Leduc, AB), John Pratt (Victoria, BC) and Riva. The 7:37.67 time was good for a gold medal and an overall second place team finish in the men’s team standings with a total of 38 points, two behind the leading Dinos.

“This is a very significant result for the UVic men,” said coach Keith Butler. “The Vikes middle distance team only competes in six of the 17 contested finals over the two day competition.”

On the women’s side it was junior Kendra Pomfret (Roberts Creek, BC) earning the first gold medal of the day with a 2:53.19 time in the women’s 1000-metre race. Pomfret propelled the Vikes further as she joined rookie sensations Grace Annear (Hampton, NB) and Rachel Francois (St. Albert, Alta.), as well as sophomore Shauna McInnis (Victoria, BC), to win gold in the women’s 4 x 800-metre relay in a nation-leading time of 8:55.43.

Rookie Francois, who shined at this year’s Golden Bear Open, is the hopeful for day two as she competes in the 600-metre final, an event she enters ranked No. 1 in the CIS in. Also on the watch list include Riva and Gaudes in the 600-metre men’s final, as well as Robertson and Childs in the men’s 1500-metre final. The top two finishers in each event will automatically capture a spot at the CIS Indoor Championships to be held in Winnipeg, Man. March 8-10.