VICTORIA–The University of Victoria Vikes men’s cross-country team entered the 2016 season with high expectations and some big shoes to fill as they searched for their second-straight national title.
Missing Olivier Collin and Ryan Cassidy, two standouts from the team last year that captured the program’s first national championship since 1997, the Vikes fell short of their ultimate goal of being the best in the country but still managed to push through the pain to leave a difficult Plains of Abraham course with a sixth-place finish in Canada.
Shoayb Bascal and Forrest Simpson led the way at nationals, finishing 15th and 16th respectively. The high finishes netted them each a Canada West First Team All-Star award and Bascal missed out on an All-Canadian nod by just three seconds. Ben Weir and Cole Peterson both earned a spot on the Canada West Second Team All-Star list by finishing 33rd and 35th at nationals.
The season got off to a great start for the Vikes, as they came away with a second-place finish at the Charles Bowles Invitational. Team captain Cole Peterson finished sixth overall and the strong result started a trend from Peterson, who was either first or second top Vikes finisher at all but one of the meets the team attended.
Ranked in the top-five of the U Sports poll throughout the season, the good results kept coming for the Vikes as they finished in fifth-place at the Western Washington Classic.
Returning to Vancouver Island for the B.C. Cross Country Championships, the team earned a first-place finish in the newly formed university challenge, beating eventual Canada West champions Trinity Western in the process. Hampered by injuries throughout the beginning of the campaign, Bascal returned to competition in style, earning a fourth-place finish against the top runners in the province.
This year was the last in the Vikes careers of both Bascal and Peterson, two high-end athletes that have been key contributors to the team’s successes.
Despite missing out on back-to-back national titles the season was a promising one for head coach Brent Fougner and his team. The future looks bright with encouraging performances put up by young athletes throughout the year.