The University of Victoria Vikes keep nomination week rolling with the release of the finalists for the Male Athlete of the Year, presented by Best Western Plus Carlton Plaza.
Soccer co-captain Isaac Koch, middle distance sprinter Vaughn Taylor and defensive stalwart Gavin Kratz from rugby were the top male performers this season.
Finalist: Vaughn Taylor, Cross Country and Track – Regina, Sask. (Humanities)
Vaughn Taylor was a dominant force this season. In his second U SPORTS track campaign with the Vikes, Taylor didn’t lose in the highly competitive 600-metre race.
He entered the Canada West Track and Field meet with wins at the Golden Bear and Panda Open earlier in the season. Running in his home province, Taylor won gold with a time of 1:19.80. It shouldn’t come as a shock that he won gold, as he posted the fastest 600m time in the country leading up conference meet.
With the spotlight on him at the U SPORTS meet, Taylor paced himself in the qualifying heat and proved to everyone that his No. 1 ranking was justified in the championship heat. He was crowned national champion with his winning time of 1.20.21.
He was also a member of the 4x800m relay team that finished fourth at U SPORTS, narrowly missing a bronze medal.
Finalist: Isaac Koch, Soccer – West Kelowna, B.C. (Humanities)
Isaac Koch was one of the best goal scorers in the country this season.
After missing all of last season to rehabilitate a knee injury, Koch was unstoppable in the Canada West.
In his fourth season with the Vikes, Koch finished tied for second with nine goals and lead the conference with eight assists. He also led the Canada West with 17 points, three points ahead of second place.
Koch led the Vikes to an 8-6-1 record and the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division – it was the Vikes best regular season finish since 2014.
For his efforts, he was named player of the game three times and was a Canada West First Team All-Star. He also was named the Canada West Player of the Year. It was the second time a Vike has won the award. Koch eventually was the runner up for the U SPORTS Player of the Year.
Finalist: Gavin Kratz, Rugby – Victoria, B.C. (Business)
The role Gavin Kratz performs for the Vikes doesn’t come with the impressive stats and fast times that the other two nominees possess, but that doesn’t mean he was any less dominant on the pitch.
After starting the previous two years at second row – a position he also played at the U20 level with the national team – he made the switch to the most demanding position on the field, loose head prop.
The adjustment was smooth for the third-year varsity player, as he took to the new position rather quickly and became one of the best at it in the B.C. Rugby Union Premiere League.
He’s constantly one of the hardest working players on the pitch and stabilizes the scrum every time he steps on the field.
On defence, he is a one-man wrecking crew, constantly blowing up the opposition’s attack.
2019-20 Vikes Award Nominees
Chancellor’s Award – Presented by bubly Sparkling Water
James O’Neill, Men’s Rugby
Puck Louwes – Women’s Soccer
McKenna Simpson – Women’s Rowing
Robert T. Wallace Shield – Presented by Hot House Pizza
Female Rookie of the Year Award
Aida Lissel-DeCorby, Women’s Rowing
Lauren Crisp, Women’s Swimming
Nikki Virk, Women’s Soccer
Robert T. Wallace Shield – Presented by Dairyland
Male Rookie of the Year Award
Diego Maffia, Men’s Basketball
Sajjan Sarai, Men’s Cross Country and Track
William Simpson, Men’s Rowing