Ali Lee, University of Victoria
The University of Victoria Vikes men’s cross-country team have a veteran-laden group that are set to challenge for their first CIS banner since 1997. The Vikes will compete in Guelph, Ont. on Nov. 14 at the CIS Cross-Country Championship, where results from this even are also compiled to award the Canada West banners and major awards.
The Vikes cross-country program has amassed 15 Canada West titles but only four national banners. Last season the Vikes men won CIS silver and won their third-straight Canada West banner. Although the Vikes graduated fifth-year standout Thomas Riva, the roster is deep experienced.
“This is probably our best opportunity to go after a championship,” said Vikes cross-country head coach Brent Fougner of his roster of one fifth year and four fourth year athletes. “We have a lot of experience and the addition of Shoayb Bascal this year is certainly going to help.”
Bascal, a fourth-year transfer from the University of Findlay, finished in the 10th at the Vikes’ opening cross-country meet, the Charles Bowles Invitational, on Oct. 3. In that meet the Vikes finished first overall as Forrest Simpson was the top runner and Olivier Collin finished sixth.
Since then the Vikes have used the Oct. 10 Western Washington Classic and the Oct. 24 B.C. Cross-country Championship to tune up for this weekend’s coming championship in Guelph.
The championship race will be 10 kilometers and will begin with team introductions at 12:10 p.m. eastern at the Guelph Arboretum. The race start time is set for 12:20 p.m. eastern.
“It will be a fair course in Guelph as long as the weather cooperates,” added Fougner, who was last season’s Canada West Male Coach of the Year.
Hosts Guelph have boasted a record nine-straight championships from 2006 to 2014, while the last time the event was hosted in their home town was in 2004.
In 2014 the Vikes men finished with 103 points, good for second in the country, while their 142 Canada West points earned them the conference title for the fourth time in five years. Fifth-year VikeRyan Cassidy will lead the charge this season following last year’s seventh place CIS finish and first-place Canada West finish. Cassidy was the only Vike named a CIS First Team All-Canadian and he was also named Canada West Athlete of the Year.
The Vikes will race a field of 178 athletes that are representing 28 different CIS schools. The event is on Nov. 14 and can be followed with live stream and results at trackie.ca.