By David Conlin, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The summer schedule is in full swing for the University of Victoria Vikes track program and this weekend is their busiest yet, as the team is sending 10 athletes to run at the Portland Twilight in Portland, Ore., on Sunday and Caroline Harrell is running the 800-metre as part of the Victoria Run Series at Centennial Stadium on Saturday.
The Portland Twilight is the first of two events in Portland this summer for the Vikes, as they’ll also be at the Portland Track Festival on June 12. The Twilight will see ten Vikes competing in three different events—5000-metre, 1500-metre and 800-metre—against some solid competition.
The event comes at a good time for the Vikes, who are in top form after a long university season and are aiming for personal bests.
“Training is coming along really well and we’re looking at this as an opportunity to race against some good competition and get some personal bests,” said head coach Brent Fougner. “A lot of young guys on the team and it’s a beautiful stadium. It’s a great atmosphere to race well so we’re hoping to come back with something to build on the rest of the season.”
Rachel Francois is the only women’s team member in Portland as she chases the Olympic Standard of 2:01.50 in the 800-metre against some top U.S. runners. Francois was a red shirt with the Vikes last year but will be back for her fifth year of eligibility next season. With a personal best of 2:02.18 in the 800m, she has a chance to book herself a spot in Rio this summer.
“Rachel is looking really good right now,” said Fougner. “Her race is the last race on Sunday night—it’s being set up with some other American girls and good pacers. We hope to capitalize on that.”
On the men’s side, Tyler Smith is coming in off of a win at home last weekend and is looking to improve on his time in the 800-metre. Recent graduate Cole Peterson, who is returning for graduate school and his fifth year of eligibility next season, is also one to watch. He’s set to run his first 1500-metre of the season after dealing with injury issues through last summer and fall.
In total, the Vikes are sending nine men to the event. Timothy Longley, Peter Oxland, Isaac Penner and Peterson are all running the 1500-metre, Thomas Oxland, Brendon Restall and Smith are in the 800-metre while Ben Weir and Shoayb Bascal are set for the 5000-meter.
“It’s a great place to race,” said Fougner of the facility at Lewis & Clark College, where both the Portland Twilight and the Portland Track Festival are to be hosted. “It’s a stadium kind of built into a hill-side and it’s well-protected so it’s pretty neat.”
Harrell is the lone Vike competing at the Christie-Phoenix Insurance Victoria Run Series this weekend, as she hits the track at Centennial Stadium in the 800-metre on Saturday. The event is the first of four meets that make up the series, which features varying race distances between 400-metres and 10,000-metres. The next event in the series will be held on June 4.
PORTLAND TWILIGHT ROSTER
Shoayb Bascal 5000m
Timothy Longley 1500m
Peter Oxland 1500m
Thomas Oxland 800m
Isaac Penner 1500m
Cole Peterson 1500m
Brendon Restall 800m
Tyler Smith 800m
Ben Weir 5000m
Rachel Francois 800m
VICTORIA RUN SERIES ROSTER
Caroline Harrell 800m