The University of Victoria Vikes men's cross-country and track program will add five new recruits for the upcoming 2017-18 season and all five are thanks to strong, existing relationships with clubs based in Victoria and Edmonton. The Vikes will add Victoria's Angus Brown, Matthew Thibodeau and Vladyslav Lyesin, all previous members of the local Prairie Inn Harriers club. Derrick Ushko and Brandon Vail, both products of the Edmonton Harriers club, round out the 2017-18 incoming group.
"We have really focused (recruiting) on a diverse group that can do both track and cross-country," explains Vikes assistant coach Hilary Stellingwerff, a two-time middle distance Olympian who has focused on recruitment for Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. "We have some strong local talent from the Prairie Inn Harriers club as we have leveraged our strong relationship with their head coach Bruce Deacon, also a two-time Olympian. We are confident in how they have been developed and can now give them the opportunity to fully reach their talent potential."
Lyesin, an Oak Bay Secondary grad, was first overall at the 2017 Vancouver Island Track Championships in the 800-m and intends to major in software engineering at UVic. Thibodeau races in the 400, 800 and 1500-m events and was Mount Douglas Secondary's Outstanding Grade 11 Athlete of the Year. Brown, who graduates from Shawnigan Lake School, was fourth at the BC Athletics Championships and earned school athletic colours in 2016-17.
"I can't wait to be part of the Vikes team and be able to use all the great resources that are made available," said Brown, who specializes in the 3000-m and cross-country. "Growing up in Victoria I always spent a lot of time around UVic and always saw the Vikes teams running at the track and on the trails. To now be a part of that team is an honour and a dream come true."
Alberta's Vail and Ushko are both products of the Edmonton Harriers, a club that has very close ties to UVic as several current Vikes have all hailed from this club. This includes four-time 800-m national champion and two-time UVic Athlete of the Year Rachel Francois, 1500-m national champion and 2017 President's Cup winner Cole Peterson as well as Isaac Penner, Derrick Evans and Gemma Moran.
"On top of being great athletes, these athletes are very well rounded and good people," adds Stellingwerff, who also noted three of the five recruits are pursuing Engineering. "Vlad, for example, has a 96 per cent average and won an academic entrance scholarship. They are all going to be great student-athletes. It was a pleasure to recruit them as they have already been really responsible and accountable."
The strength in 2017 recruits for the Vikes men will hopefully foreshadow a repeat to the team's 2015 national cross-country title. The Vikes will have a unique opportunity to hoist that banner on home soil as Victoria is host to the 2017 U SPORTS Cross-country championship on Nov. 11. The last time UVic hosted the event was in 2007.
2017-18 Vikes men's cross-country and track additions:
Specialty Events: Cross-country, 3000-m
Height: 170 cm
Intended program: Commerce
High School: Shawnigan Lake School
Hometown: Victoria, B.C.
Clubs: Prairie inn Harrier
Competitions: 2016: ISA BC XC Champs, Island XC Champs, BC Athletics Champs, BC high school champs, National XC champs; 2017: Pioneer 8k, Oregan relays, TC 10k, Mid Island Zone champs
Top achievements: 4th BC Athletics Champs, 28th National XC champs, 9:17 3k, 2:05 800
Individual awards: School athletic colours 2016-17
Specialty Events: 800-m
Intended major at UVic: Software Engineering
High School: Oak Bay Secondary (Victoria)
Hometown: Victoria, British Columbia
Club: Prairie Inn Harriers
Competitions: XC Nationals (2014), BC High School XC (2014-2016), BC High School Track (2015-2017), New Balance Games (2016), BC Club Track (2016)
Previous finishes: BC High School XC 2016, 17th; BC High School XC 2015, 21st; BC High School Track 2016, 1500m- 7th; Vancouver Island Track 2017, 800m- 1st
Specialty Events: 800-m, 1500-m, 400-m
Intended Program: Science
High School: Mount Douglas Secondary
Hometown: Victoria, BC
Club: Prairie Inn Harriers
Achievements: 52.63 400m, 1:59.12 800m, 4:12.12 1500m; Mount Douglas outstanding grade 11 male athlete 2015-2016
Intended major at UVic: Engineering
High School: Strathcona (Edmonton)
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Club: Edmonton Harriers
Competitions: 2017 (Running Room Indoor Games — 800m, 3rd, 2:00.29; 8x200m, 1st, 3:12.40; Golden Bear Open — 600m, 2nd, 1:24.61); 2016 (Alberta Indoor Track & Field Championships — 800m, 3rd, 2:01.36; Edmonton High School City Finals — 800m, 2nd, 2:02.13; 4x100m, 1st, 45.13; ASAA Provincial Championships — 800m, 5th, 2:03.98); 2015 (Edmonton High School City Finals — 800m, 1st, 2:04.73; ASAA Provincial Championships — 800m, 4th, 1:59.42; CALTAF Track Classic — 800m, 4th, 1:59.51)
Personal Bests: 400m — 54.19; 600m — 1:24.61; 800m — 1:59.42; 1500m — 4:19.78
Brandon Jonathan Vail
Specialty: 3000-m, 1500-m, Cross-country
Intended major: Engineering
High school: Harry Ainlay Edmonton
Hometown Edmonton Alberta
Previous team; Edmonton Harriers and Various team Alberta teams including Legions and Westerns
3000m Legion Nationals 2016 8:37.66; 1500m ASAA High School Provincials 2016 4:00.51; 6k ASAA High School Provincials XC 17:55.33
Top Achievements: 4th and 5th at Legion Nationals 2016 in the 1500m and 3000m; Making team Alberta for Legion Nationals; Silver and Bronze Legion Nationals 2014 as a midget
Individual awards: Athletics Alberta XC athlete of the year 2014 and 2016; Athletics Alberta Track and Field Athlete of the year nominee 2016.