In the last race of his university career Cole Peterson, a native of Edmonton, made sure to finish in style, winning gold in the 1500-metre race on the track that has played such an important role in his life.
“This has been a fairytale ending to my career as a student-athlete,” said Peterson. “My first ever track race was for my elementary school at the Butterdome, which kick-started my love for the sport and my first race as a Vike was also here, taking place a few days after the death of my father.”
“That loss was hard on me athletically, but the complete support of Brent and the university, as well as my incredible teammates who have been a constant source of inspiration and a family to me, have allowed me to blossom into the athlete and person I am today.”
Peterson’s gold is his second of the meet, as the 2017 Canada West Male Track Athlete of the Year took advantage of the chance to lead the Vikes in competition one final time.
“I could not ask for anything more meaningful than to win twice in Edmonton in front of my friends and family,” said Peterson. “The 4×800-metre holds a special place in my heart, when I joined this team the Vikes men had won five straight titles, but despite the immense talent we’ve put forth over my career, a title eluded us until this year.”
“Both races were executed exactly as planned, I have imagined winning both of these races all year, the 4×800-metre title is for my teammates, past and present: the 1500m, my first national title, is for my dad who I love and miss dearly.”
Also picking up his second medal of the meet on the final day of nationals was fourth-year Vike Tyler Smith, who won silver in the 600-metre race in a time of 1:18.23 to go along with his role in the men’s 4×800-metre gold one day ago.
“Tyler has demonstrated a level of confidence this year that has allowed his talent to show through,” said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. “After a difficult last year recovering from injury he has rebounded to a new level.”
“His anchor leg in the 4×800-metre was a work of art in tactics, and today’s 600-metre silver was an almost perfectly executed kick coming just shy of the gold.”
Fifth-year Vike Rachel Francois also saw her university career come to a close, finishing just off the podium in the 600-metre race and in sixth place in the 4×400-metre relay. Francois was going for what would have been an incredible fifth national title in the 600-metre and led the race from the start but was just unable to hang on for a podium finish.
“Although Rachel did not win her fifth championship in the 600-metre, in my eyes she leaves here a winner,” said Fougner. “Her accomplishments over her varsity career have been nothing short of amazing.”
From nearby St. Albert, AB, Francois was also pleased to get the chance to finish her time with the Vikes in front of family and friends.
“It wasn’t the fairy tale ending I hoped for, but I’m still so proud of my collegiate career as a Vike,” said Francois. “Racing on home soil is so special for me and it was a great way to end my 5 years here. ”
Also ending their time with the Vikes at the meet were Brendon Restall and Andrea Robinson. Restall picked up a gold medal one day ago, while Robinson earned a sixth-place finish with the women’s 4×400-metre relay team today.