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By Natalie Wise, Vikes Communications

September 20, 2012, VICTORIA – Defending Canada West champions, the University of Victoria Vikes men’s and women’s cross-country teams, are travelling to Washington this weekend for the St. Martin’s Invitational, their opening meet of the 2012 cross-country season.

At last year’s event, the Vikes earned both the men’s and the women’s titles and will be looking for repeat wins.

“It’s an early season meet for us and we race against some junior colleges and [NCAA] division two schools,” said Brent Fougner, men’s and women’s cross-country head coach. “Last year we went down and won both the men’s and women’s so the competition is perfect. We’re looking for some of our new athletes to get into a university race and for some of our veterans to confirm their fitness.”

Coming out of last year’s Invitational with an individual second place finish of 26:06, 2011 Canada West Athlete of the Year Dylan Haight (Victoria, BC) will be returning to this year’s event looking to one-up his previous results. Additional Vikes standouts competing in this year’s Invitational are 2011 Canada West Rookie of the Year Ryan Cassidy(Grande-Digue, NB) and 2011 Canada West All-Star Josh Clouthier (Nanaimo, BC).

Fourth-year Doug Oxland (Nanaimo, BC), another key returnee, will also be in attendance as well as second-years Doug Oxland (Nanaimo, BC) and Patrick Psotka (Victoria, BC). The meet this weekend will be the first race as a Vike for local product Cody Therrien (Victoria, BC).

Travelling on the women’s side is fourth-year Madeline MacDonald (Calgary, AB), fifth-year Brittany Therrien (Victoria, BC) and freshman Emma Bibault (High River, AB). Several key returnees not running this weekend include 2011 Canada West First Team All-Star and 2011 CIS First Team All-Canadian Stephanie Trenholm (Campbell River, BC), last year’s event winner Deirdre Moran (Calgary, AB) and second-year runner Grace Annear (Hampton, NB).

The cross-country teams will race on Sept. 22 in Lacey, Washington.