By: Kendra Pomfret, Vikes Communications
February 2, 2014, VICTORIA (ISN) – Amidst a sea of NCAA Division one teams, the Vikes made their presence felt at their latest meet, posting several qualifying times and breaking three school records at the UW Invitational, February 1 at Dempsey Stadium in Seattle, Wash.
In the women’s invitational 800-metre race, Vike Nicole Soderberg set a new school record and an indoor personal best of 2:07.08, beating out teammate Rachel Francois’ previous record of 2:07.70.
“I felt great through 400-metres in 63 seconds,” said Soderberg. “When the pace sped up I just kept my pace but lost contact. I followed through to the finish and am really happy with my time.”
Soderberg placed sixth overall, followed by Francois in seventh (2:07.56), and Grace Annear in eighth (2:08.55) for the Vikes. All three women will be a dominating force later this season when they defend their CIS national championship title in the 4×800 race. The trio have also met the converted CIS 1000-metre standard, though Francois will likely focus on defending her 600-metre title.
“The depth of our women’s 800-metre group is the best in the country and would challenge most NCAA division one teams south of the border,” said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. “National team member Rachel Francois has a great group of training partners that are currently her main competition heading into the CIS Championships.”
Third-year Vike Shauna McInnis also put on a show at this weekend’s meet. The commentators went wild as McInnis closed a 15-metre gap to outkick Tate Murray of Stanford University in a photo finish win of heat one in the women’s invitational mile. McInnis’ time of 4:49.05 clocked a personal-best by more than ten seconds, punching her well deserved ticket to CIS in the 1500-metre distance. McInnis placed 10th overall in a superb field including three-time world champion Lauren Fleshman (2nd, 4:42.77) and Canadian Olympian Jessica Smith (13th, 4:49.91).
Rounding out the women’s team was senior Madeline MacDonald who raced to a new personal best time of 9:50.41 in the Women’s 3000-metre, shy of the CIS auto qualification standard 9:45.93.
On the men’s side, Brendon Restall was the top performer, placing fourth overall in the invitational 400-metre in 48.89, for a new UVic school record, improving on his own previous 2013 record of 49.36. Restall was just shy of the converted CIS standard of 48.41, but will likely still earn a spot based on his standings into the 600-metre come March.
Fourth-year Vike Thomas Riva proved he belonged in the top section of the men’s invite mile after racing to a strong 4:01.94 for sixth-place, just missing the iconic sub four minute barrier.
“4:01 is where I thought I would be, but breaking that four minute barrier is always sweet,” remarked Riva.
The men’s stacked mile, including sixth-place Olympian Evan Jaggar was won by UBC’s Lucas Bruchet in a nation leading time of 3:57.71.
Riva’s new personal best now ranks as the second fastest in Vikes history, behind alumni Geoff Martinson’s 2009 time of 4:01.55, and grants him an auto qualification to the 1500-metre race at this year’s CIS Championships. Teammates Olivier Collin (4:04.90), Kyle Irvine (4:06.24), and Cole Peterson (4:06.58) also had commendable races. Collin’s raw talent came as no surprise, as he gradually moved up in the pack and kicked hard down the homestretch for a second place finish in the invitational section’s first heat. Collin was content with his first indoor race since 2010.
“I was able to reel in one to two people every lap and finish strong,” said Collin.
Irvine and Peterson were close behind finishing sixth and seventh respectively – all four beating the CIS auto qualification standard of 4:08.33. Rookie sensation Tyler Smith placed third overall in the Invitational Section of the men’s 800-metre in 1:51.17, beating the CIS auto qualification standard of 1:51.83.
In the first heat of the Men’s Invitational 800-metre, all eyes were on John Pratt – both for his smooth first place finish (1:52.46). Pratt placed eighth overall.
Finally, the Vikes men came together to win section one of the Invitational 4×400 metre relay and place second overall. Restall, Riva, Pratt, and Smith raced to a nation leading time and a new UVic school record of 3:16.46, set previously by Adam Gaudes, Riva, Darren Mazzei, and Pratt in 2011 (3:18.83). The new leading time gives the Vikes an automatic birth into the final at the CIS National Championships on Mar. 8.
“The weekend’s results show the team’s preparation is on track heading into the final weeks of the indoor season,” said Fougner. “We now have three relay teams and eleven individuals who have qualified in fourteen events with one more meet left in our schedule before heading to Conference.”
The Vikes will next compete at the Husky Classic, Feb. 15 at the University of Washington.