Dalke targets medal at ACAC championship
University of Alberta-Augustana Viking Joedy Dalke finishes the Men’s 8K third among ACAC runners during the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Grand Prix race at Stoney Creek Lodge in Camrose on Saturday. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
An individual men’s cross-country race at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference race is eight kilometres. The path to the podium has been much longer for Ferintosh native Joedy Dalke, but as he heads into the provincial championship, it is within reach for the first time in five years.
The University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings fifth-year senior has consistently finished grand prix races in the top 10 throughout his career, he’s even snagged a couple of bronze medals along the way, but his bronze medal on Saturday at the final Grand Prix stop of the season in Camrose was different. This was the most competitive field he has medalled in, with every competing ACAC school in attendance as the final tune up before the ACAC championships in Red Deer. He also did it by shattering his personal best by 14 seconds, his previous best was 28 minutes and 32 seconds at nationals last year on a flat course.
“The timing is awesome to have a good race is just a huge confidence booster,” said Dalke, who will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with a PhysEd major and a psychology minor and is looking at getting a Bachelor of Education degree. “I’m going into provincials knowing what I’m capable of and I’ve never raced this well before.”
The ACAC championships are Oct. 28 in Red Deer, on the same course Dalke finished fifth on earlier this year. It is an easier, flatter course than the one at the Stoney Creek Centre in Camrose, so it may bring other runners into contention, but it also means he should be faster as well.
Co-coach Robert Renman has watched his pupil come a long way since he started competing for the club, saying it is his dedication this year that has made the biggest difference in his performances.
“It’s wonderful when runners develop that way and keep getting better,” said Renman. “He’s trained harder than he ever has before, and as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect … It’s the kind of sport where if you do enough and the right type of work, the results will tend to come.”
The Vikings men had a strong finish as a team overall, and are currently ranked second in the province and fifth in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association, one spot behind the SAIT Trojans in both instances. On Saturday, Erik Rust (29:03), Matt Martin (29:16) was eighth, Michio Green (29:19) ninth, and Emile Vogel-Nakamura (30:09) 11th. The four finishers inside the top 15 tied with RDC for the most of any school, though the Kings only had one in the top 10, Adam Wass (29:08) finished seventh.
“Our top four is awesome, and they raced really well today,” said Dalke. “That proves we’re a contender for provincials with our top four.”
There was no catching SAIT, as Matt Travaglini beat even the club and U-Sport runners from the University of Alberta and University of Calgary by 32 seconds. Travaglini also won a Canadian Mountain Running Championship this summer, he basically toyed with this field and should be in contention for a CCAA title this year.
The top five teams and top 20 individual performers from the ACAC get their ticket punched for the CCAA championships in Montreal on Nov. 11.
The Vikings women’s team has their work cut out for them to make the cut. They enter provincials as the sixth best team in Alberta, but with a good showing can sneak into the top five. Renman said even if they finish outside of the top five, they can still pay their own way to the CCAA championships, and that is something they will do.
On Saturday, Emily McIlroy (26:01) was the top Viking in the 6K race, finishing 14th, while Jessica Haenni (26:02) was right on her heels in 15th. Mackenzie Grove (27:41) was 24th, Anne Mirejovsky (28:37) was 29th, and Leah Reid (29:41) was 31st to round out their top five.
“They did really well,” said Renman. “Emily and Jessica ran strong, and Jessica in particular had a big improvement from what I have seen from her before.”
It is a young group of runners, led by McIlroy, 21, who is in her fourth year.
“This is a great race because you really get to see where you stand and you get to run against some really fast girls,” she said. “We have a pretty strong team this year … There’s eight of us going to nationals, so it’s really great for the women’s team and to have that team spirit to take everyone.”
Despite frigid temperatures, she was not phased on Saturday, and put in one of her better performances of the season on the Vikings home course.
“It’s amazing spirit in our home town, there’s so many faces on this hill,” said the Newfoundland and Labrador native who is taking global development studies.”