Vikings surprise at cross-country nationals
University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings Joedy Dalke, left, blazes a trail for team mate Erik Rust in the CCAA Cross-country Championship in Montreal on Saturday. Supplied
Even when Joedy Dalke was not as his best, he still found a way to help lead the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings into a top five finish in the country.
The Vikings entered the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross-Country Running Championship in Montreal as the No. 6-ranked men’s team, though co-coach Robert Renman thought even that might be a little presumptuous.
Dalke was the Vikings’ top runner for most of the season, coming off a third-place finish at the Grand Prix race in Camrose and a fourth place finish at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship two weeks later. However, as Saturday and the national championship race rolled around, Dalke was sick and on antibiotics for strep throat. It was not setting up for the story he wanted to write in the final race of his college career. Instead, he audibled and played trailblazer for teammate Erik Rust for the first seven kilometres of the race before dying out over the final click. By doing so he helped Rust preserve some energy for the home stretch.
“He ran a fantastic race, he was not his usual self because he was not healthy, but he ran really well and help Erik to a large extent to a super good time,” said Renman. “He was dying at the one kilometre pole, people were passing him, but he managed to hold on and keep the team ahead of the sixth place (team).
“He sacrificed himself, so to speak, trying to get a good result in for his buddies.”
Until race day, conditions were looking pretty cold and miserable for the race, but the weather cleared just in time for Saturday.
Rust was the top Viking, finishing in 30th with a time of 27 minutes and 16.8 seconds.
“Erik is a really strong runner, he just seems to be getting better and faster every year,” said Renman, adding he is a strong finisher.
Matthieu Martin was not far back at 27:28.6 and in 39th while Dalke crossed at 27:35.1 and 45th. Freshman runner Michio Green was in 10 spots later with a time of 27:52.3. All four qualifying runners placed within 40 seconds of each other, and that tight cluster gave the Vikings 153 points, four better than St. Clair College in sixth. André-Laurendeau was fourth with 56 points.
Benjamin Osorio (29:32.6) and Nils Asfeldt (30:29.0) rounded out Augustana runners in the men’s race.
The Augustana women surprised everybody at the race. The young team was there for experience only, after a fifth-place finish at the ACAC championship, but they jumped up the leader board to finish ninth out of the top 20 teams in Canada.
“That was a complete, pleasant surprise, that’s not something we expected,” said Renman. “They had really strong races.”
Emily McIlroy (23:57.1) was the top Viking in 33rd place, Jessica Haenni (34:34.1) was 48th, Mackenzie Grove (24:40.3) was 52nd, and Annika Olesen (25:52.1) was 90th as the fourth and final qualifier for the team score. Tayla Koerber (27:01.1) and Anika Asfeldt (27:52.2) rounded out the Vikings runners.
“It was a good season for training and racing they have been improving throughout the season,” said Renman. “Their performance has been going up and that’s just because of their dedication to training and their dedication to the team.”
There should be a strong contingent of runners back next year for the Vikings to build off of, though Renman and Gerhard Lotz will no know until later who is all returning.
“It’s a great confidence boost,” said Renman.
“It should motivate people to join the team and get some excitement about both of our running teams that they are competitive nationally.”