Thomas Oxland of the UVic Vikes track team ran a perfectly patient race, biding his time before exploding down the stretch to capture a gold medal in the 1500-metre on the final day of the U SPORTS National Championships in Windsor, Ont. on March 10.
The Vikes were involved in four races throughout the final day of competition. Along with Oxland’s gold medal, Alyssa Mousseau finished fifth in the women’s 600-metre final, Tyler Smith finished seventh in the men’s 600-metre final and the men’s 4×400-metre relay team crossed the line in 14th.
Oxland, a third-year athlete from Nanaimo, entered the meet ranked second in the nation at 1500-metres and more than lived up to that ranking.
He worked his way into the front pack right from the start and settled into a pace that saw him sit fourth for much of the race. Entering the final lap in third place, Oxland waited until the very last straight-stretch to make his move, dispatching the two runners in front of him to take his very first lead of the race just steps from the finish line.
In the end, Oxland’s finishing time of 3:54.90 was good for gold by just .15 of a second and marked the third year in a row that a Vike has won this race at nationals.
“Thomas ran the perfect race today in what was a very tactical race from the start,” said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. “He came up short at the Canada West Championship but learned from his mistake and was patient and aware of what was going on around him.”
Coupled with a silver medal in the 4×800-metre race yesterday, Oxland will leave the national meet with both a gold and silver medal.
In just her second year at the university level, Mousseau served notice to the rest of the country that she will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Mousseau finished fifth in the 600-metre race in a time of 1:30.62, while also running the anchor leg of the women’s 4×800-metre relay team that claimed a fifth-place finish on Day 2 of the competition.
“Alyssa had a break-through weekend and I am looking forward to seeing what she does this summer on the track,” said Fougner. “Today’s final shows she is on track to dominate this event next year.”
While a seventh-place finish in the 600-metre final wasn’t the fairy tale ending that Tyler Smith wanted for his university career, there can be no doubt that the lone fifth-year Vike at nationals had an outstanding tenure wearing the blue and gold of UVic,
With his anchor leg in the Vikes 4×800-metre silver winning relay team yesterday, Smith has now won six medals at nationals to go along with the nine he has collected at the Canada West Championships throughout his five years with the Vikes. Before the meet started, Smith was honoured as the U SPORTS Student-Athlete Community Service Award winner.
In total a young Vikes contingent will leave Windsor with two medals; one gold and one silver. In the overall team rankings the Vikes men finish ninth and the women 15th.
Day 3 UVic Results
W 600m – Alyssa Mousseau (5th – 1:30.62)
M 600m – Tyler Smith (7th – DNF)
M 1500m – Thomas Oxland (GOLD – 3:54.90)