By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
(ISN) – It was golden glory for fourth year University of Victoria Vikes track runner Rachel Francois, who successfully defended her fourth-straight CIS gold medal in the 600-m on the third and final day of the 2015 CIS Track and Field Championship hosted Mar. 12-14 in Windsor, Ont. Following three silver medal performances just a day prior, the Vikes started off well with both Francois and second-year Vike Adam Paul Morris cleaning up the podium in the 600-m events, while Thomas Riva in the 1500-m and the women’s 4×400-m relay team impressed with a second-place finishes.
“I felt strong and confident and I knew what I had to do to make this race work in my favour,” said Francois, a former CIS Rookie of the Year and now four-time CIS All-Canadian. “I got out in front early and I could hear (Toronto’s Sasha Gollish) coming but just kept going. It feels amazing and especially this year with so many of my teammates graduating. It was really special.”
Francois took gold in the 600-m in a time of 1:29.17, ahead of CIS Athlete of the Year and Varsity Blues stand out Gollish (1:29.71). Toronto’s Rachel Jewett took bronze in 1:30.16.
“For someone to dominate from rookie year through to her fourth year is amazing,” said a proud Brent Fougner, head coach of the Vikes. “This was probably the toughest year after taking down the giant (Gollish) that seemed to be winning everything this weekend. Rachel went out and challenged everybody to come after her so that was gutsy on her part. I’ve always said she is such a competitor and if you put her up against something like this she will perform for you.”
Francois set the stage for the men’s 600-m as second-year Paul-Morris nabbed the Vikes’ second gold medal of the day in a time of 1:18.33. Winsor’s Alex Ullman took silver (1:18.52), while Calgary’s Garrett King crossed for bronze (1:18.56). Vike Brendon Restall finished sixth in 1:22.11.
Fifth-year Riva also capped his final CIS appearance with his third silver medal of the weekend. In the men’s 1500-m, Riva crossed in 3:48.08 behind gold medallist Ross Proudfoot of Guelph (3:47.84). Queen’s runner Alex Wilkie took bronze in 3:49.03. Vike Cole Peterson finished sixth in 3:51.77.
“He was just back a little too far with 300m to go and that takes a little bit out of your legs when it comes to kick,” explained Fougner about Riva’s race. “It’s a fine line and he knew it but three silver medals in a weekend isn’t bad!”
To cap off the medal count the Vikes 4×400-m women’s relay team had an underdog finish taking silver and crossing in 3:49.31. The relay team of rookie Caroline Harrell, graduating seniors Nicole Soderberg and Kendra Pomfret as well as Francois ousted bronze medalists Trinity Western (3:50.56) and were back of gold medalists Toronto (3:48.83).
“We all finished the relay and when the times went up on the board we just started crying,” added Francois about her relay team performance. “Everyone ran a great leg from start to finish and it was so special to cap off Nicole and Kendra’s last meet like this.”
The Vikes men’s relay team finished ninth overall in 3:22.42 after getting caught in a collision on their second exchange.
“We just don’t run 4×4’s so knowing what happens at the exchange and what to do was a big learning experience for (the Vikes men) and obviously they were ranked No. 2 but just like the women you never know what can happen you have to run the race,” added Fougner about the Vikes men failing to medal. “It was disappointing for (the Vikes men) but overall the guys ended up tied for fourth which is amazing for that small of a team.”
The Vikes finished the 2015 CIS Championship in seventh for the women (33 points), and in fourth for the men (44 points). Toronto took the women’s banner with 131.5 points, over 50 points ahead of runners up Trinity Western (79). On the men’s side the Lancers hoisted the national banner at home, winning with 101 points ahead of Guelph (92) and York (73).
VIKES RESULTS – Day 3 (March 14, 2015)
1st – Rachel Francois (1:29.17)
6th – Kendra Pomfret (4:29.57)
10th – Shauna McInnis (4:29.97)
Women 4×400-m Relay
2nd – Victoria (3:49.31)
Caroline Harrell, Nicole Soderberg, Kendra Pomfret, Rachel Francois
2nd – Adam Paul-Morris (1:18.33)
6th – Brendon Restall (1:22.11)
2nd – Thomas Riva (3:48.08)
6th – Cole Peterson (3:51.77)
Men 4×400-m Relay
9th – Victoria (3:22.42)
Nick Taylor, Adam Paul-Morris, Isaac Penner, Brendon Restall
VIKES RESULTS – Day 2 (March 13, 2015)
3rd – Nicole Soderberg (2:47.65)
Women 4×800-m Relay
2nd – Victoria (8:42.30)
Nicole Soderberg, Shauna McInnis, Kendra Pomfret, Rachel Francois
2nd – Thomas Riva (2:25.53)
14th – Cody Therrien (8:48.12)
Men 4×800-m Relay
2nd – Victoria (7:32.07)
Adam Paul-Morris, Cole Peterson, Tyler Smith, Thomas Riva