Vikings win provincial cross-country silver
University of Alberta-Augustana Viking Joedy Dalke led the men’s cross country team to a team silver medal at the ACAC championships in Red Deer. Supplied
The University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings are heading to the cross-country national championships as the No. 6 ranked men’s team in the country.
The Vikings earned silver in the men’s competition at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship in Red Deer on the weekend while the women finished fifth, moving up a notch from where they have been most of the season.
The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross-Country Running National Championships go Nov. 11 in Sainte-Térese, Que. — a suburb of Montreal — and are being hosted by Lionel-Groulx.
“That exceed our expectations,” said Augustana co-coach Robert Renman. “One thing that is quite telling, almost our entire team had at least seasonal bests or personal bests.”
The men’s team excelled in their biggest race of the season. They placed four runners in the top 10, tying ACAC gold medallist SAIT, and five in the top 12. The biggest difference was the Trojans swept the podium, while Joedy Dalke was Augustana’s top finisher in fourth, completing the 8K course in 28 minutes and 40 seconds. The cavalry was not far behind, however. Erik Rust (29:19) was seventh, Michio Green (29:35) was eighth, Matt Martin (29:41) was ninth and Emile Vogel-Nakamura (30:25) was 12th. Benjamin Osorio will make up the sixth and final member of the Vikings team headed to nationals.
Dalke, a fifth-year senior in his final season, was just off his personal best pace set in the final Grand Prix race of the season in Camrose on Oct. 14 of 28:18. However, it was still an improvement of one minute and 44 seconds from when they raced the same course on Sept. 30 for Grand Prix No. 4.
“I’m sure he would have liked to be top three, and he was really close and did everything that he could, and we’e still extremely proud of that accomplishment and I think he’s happy with it,” said Renman. “It’s one of those things in racing, you can be close, and one of those days you’re ahead of that guy and the next time you’re not ... When it’s that close it can go either way.”
It was a strong showing as well for Green, who is in his first year with Augustana. He has continued to improve throughout the season. On Sept. 30, he ran the same course in 30:18, and he should only get better with the experience he gains from nationals.
“He’s a really talented runner,” said Renman. “He’s the type of runner that I would not be surprised to see get better year after year.”
There was just no catching the Trojans, led by Matt Travaglini who won with a time of 26:19, besting his teammates Jacques Saayman (27:33) and Daryl Ross (28:27). Travaglini is one of the top cross-country runners in the country and is a gold medallist from the Canadian Mountain Running Championship. He has hardly been challenged this season and will be a favourite in Montreal.
“He’s certainly in a league of his own,” said Renman. “The thing about running in schools, some years you’re lucky to have all of the best (runners) come at the same time, and some years it’s the opposite, you have one good or half-decent runner and the other 12 are first years.”
The Vikings women were led by Emily McIlroy (25:41) who finished in 12th, one second ahead of teammate Jessica Haenni in the 6K race. MacKenzie Grove (27:28) finished in 24th while Anika Asfeldt (28:43) was 32nd and Annika Olesen (28:50) was 34th.
It was a marked improvement for Augustana who had five more runners — Taya Koerber, Leah Reid, Anne Mirejovsky, Katelynn Cook, and Emily Lyseng — within 1:48 of their sixth finisher, most of whom put up personal bests.
“This is a big deal for them because they have been ranked sixth for most of the season and this was a strong fifth place,” said Renman. “That’s a fantastic result for them.”
Red Deer College finished first, SAIT second, Lethbridge College third, and Concordia University fourth. RDC’s Jordanna Cota was first overall with a time of 24:13, edging out SAIT’s Ricki Christopher (24:38), and Lethbridge’s Sophia Nowicki (24:54)
For their efforts, Renman and his cohort Gerhard Lotz were named ACAC cross-country coach of the year, the third time they have shared in the honour, also doing so in 2010-11 and 2005-06, while Lotz was named a solo recipient in 2007-08 and 2008-09. As ACAC coach of the year they will also be nominated for CCAA coach of the year.
“It’s always something that we really appreciate, but there are many other coaches that would be just as deserving of this award, for sure,” said Renman. “SAIT had an amazing year and they have a fairly new coaching staff, so I am sure they will win this award fairly soon.”
Despite the improved showings, Renman is trying to keep his expectations in check heading into nationals, knowing they will be facing some stiff competition, particularly from the Ontario and Quebec schools.
“We are hoping for a top 10 finish for the men,” said Renman. “Even though we are ranked (sixth), I think that is not written in stone because the schools over there in the east are very, very competitive when it comes to championship races.
“For the women’s team, it’s going to be a great learning experience. Part of going on a trip like this is the experience of learning and competing against the best runners in the country.”