by Aradalan Ramezani, Vikes Communications
Rachel Francois – 2014-15 Women’s XC & Track
(ISN) – VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes track teams are set for the Canada West championship this weekend, Feb. 27-28, in Winnipeg, Man. With 23 men’s and women’s athletes set to compete the Vikes will look to make a strong appearance following their 2014 campaign that included 15 medals at the conference championship including a gold-medal sweep in the men’s and women’s 4×800-m and 4×400-m relays.
The Vikes women are led by the fourth-year Rachel Francois, who is the three-time reigning CIS champion in the 600-m event. However, Francois was bested at the conference level by Calgary’s Jenna Westaway despite setting a new UVic school record in 1:29.38. Francois and teammates Grace Annear, Nicole Soderberg and Shauna McInnis enter this weekend as 2014 CIS First Team All-Canadians.
The Vikes men are led by fifth year Thomas Riva who was last year’s Canada West Athlete of the Year after earning gold in the 1500-m, silver in the 1000-m and helping the Vikes win both relay events. Riva and third-year Vike Brendon Restall enter this weekend as 2014 CIS First Team All-Canadians, whiel returnees Tyler Smith and Olivier Collin were second team All-Canadians last season.
In the 600-m, the Vikes will look to capture first-place finishes on both the men and women’s events. Second-year Smith is top-ranked in the conference and will likely be followed closely by second-year UBC transfer and now Vike Adam Paul-Morris. Smith achieved a personal best of 1:49.12 in the 800-m at the Husky Classic breaking fellow teammate Riva’s school record. First-year Nick Taylor and third year Restall will also race the 600-m. The pair are ranked fourth and fifth in the conference, respectively.
Fourth-year Francois is also first in the conference on the women’s side and will look to capture the 600-m title after placing second last year. At the Husky Classic, she beat the school record in the 800-m, which was previous set by her, clocking in at 2:05.53. She has captured CIS gold in 600-m for three consecutive years.
Last year’s male outstanding performer of the year, Riva is ranked first in the men’s 1000-m and 1500-m, both events which he medaled in last year. Riva will have the strong company of third-year Peterson, who is second in both events.
An important event on the women’s side will be the 1000-m. Francois has already met CIS qualification and leads the Vikes pack of Soderberg and McInnis in the rankings. The trio are ranked second, third, and fourth in the conference, respectively. Fourth-year Soderbreg posted a personal best of 2:49.31 in the 1000-m at the Husky Classic.
In her final year of her university career, Pomfret will compete in the 1500-m. She has already achieved CIS qualification and is ranked third in the conference. At the UW Invitational, she set a new personal best in the mile-run to break the school record, clocking in at a time of 4:44.44. Pomfret returns after sitting out last season due to injury. The fifth-year captain is no stranger to the podium winning gold in the 4×800-m and bronze in the 4×400-m at the 2013 CIS Championship and winning bronze in the 1000-m at the 2013 Canada West Championship.
Also aiming to reach the podium is fourth-year McInnis who will race in the 1000-m and 1500-m, both events that she is ranked fourth in the conference. She reached a personal best in the mile run, timing in at 4:46.96 at the Husky Classic. She has already achieved the CIS standard for the 1500-m.
In the relays, the men aim to defend the 4×400-m relay, which they are ranked first in the conference standings. They have also already reach CIS qualification for both relay events.
The Vikes boast a strong track team and without competing in field events are unlikely to hoist a conference banner but with goals of defending their titles in a range of track events, this weekend is sure to be a success. The Vikes will compete this weekend with the hopes of several Vikes hitting personal bests, qualifying for CIS nationals and getting on the podium. The CIS Track and Field Championships are hosted Mar. 12-14 at the University of Windsor.
Canada West Championship Roster
Emma Bibault (3000-m, 1500-m)
Rachel Francois (1000-m, 600-m)
Caroline Harrell (300-m, 600-m)
Chloe Hegland (3000-m, 1500-m)
Shauna McInnis (1000-m, 1500-m)
Gemma Moran (1000-m, 600-m)
Kendra Pomfret (1000-m, 1500-m)
Andrea Robinson (1000-m, 600-m)
Nicole Soderberg (100-m, 600-m)
Jackson Bocksnick (3000-m, 1500-m)
Derrick Evans (3000-m, 1500-m)
Adam Gaudes (600-m)
Matt Noseworthy (3000-m, 1500-m)
Adam Paul-Morris (600-m)
Isaac Penner (1000-m, 600-m)
Cole Peterson (1000-m, 1500-m)
Brendon Restall (300-m, 600-m)
Thomas Riva (1000-m, 1500-m)
Trevor Schiavone (1000-m, 1500-m)
Tyler Smith (1000-m, 600-m)
Nick Taylor (300-m, 600-m)
Cody Therrien (3000-m, 1500-m)
Ben Weir (3000-m, 1500-m)