It’s another semester in the books for the Vikes athletic teams, a season that featured plenty of achievements from UVic’s many athletes.
Major accomplishments were scored on the track for UVic, highlighted by a strong showing by both the men’s and women’s teams in the CIS Championships, which ran March 6–8. Vikes athletes took home a total of nine medals at the year-end event, in addition to impressive overall team finishes.
Track star Rachel Francois led the way for the women, claiming three medals. For her standout gold in the 600-metre race, she narrowly edged out teammate Grace Annear with a time of 1:28.40. Francois and Annear were stellar together as well, capturing gold in the 4 x 800-metre relay along with Shauna McInnis and Nicole Soderberg.
Francois and Annear would capture one more medal, silver in the 4 x 400 metre. Soderberg was also part of the medal-winning run, with Jenica Moore rounding out the team.
McInnis found personal success as well, showcasing her endurance by winning silver in the 1500-metre race. The two gold medals and three silvers guided the women to a sixth-place overall team finish in the nation.
On the men’s side, Brendon Restall and Thomas Riva each took home multiple medals after impressive showings. Restall ensured double gold for UVic in the 600-metre, running a speedy 1:17.61, to claim gold.
Riva meanwhile ran to his own gold in the 1000-metre with a time of 2:25.16. Together Restall and Riva won silver in the 4 x 800-metre, joined by Olivier Collin and Tyler Smith, and bronze in the 4 x 400 metre, on a team rounded out by Smith and John Pratt. The two gold medals, paired with the silver and bronze, delivered UVic to a fifth-place team finish nationwide.
UVic’s sailing club also put on a dominant display this semester, winning a pair of regattas to go along with a second-place finish at the highly competitive Rainbow Cup in Hawaii.
The Vikes’ second-place finish in Hawaii in January came against the top sailing talent on the west coast. While they were just edged out by the University of Hawaii, UVic emerged ahead of powerhouses such as the University of Southern California and University of California San Diego.
Sailing team veteran Sarah Berry says the Hawaii regatta was key in establishing UVic’s name outside of the Pacific Northwest.
“Participating in the Hawaii Invitational regatta lifted the profile for UVic Sailing to an international level,” wrote Berry by email in February. “Before the Pacific Coast Championships in Santa Barbara and the Hawaii regatta, no other sailing teams besides the Northwest Region had ever heard of UVic.”
Berry and her partner Reid Cannon posted a regatta-best score of 38 over the course of the event, and were the driving force in securing UVic’s second-place finish. Berry explained what allows her and her teammate to work so well together.
“Reid and I have been sailing together for the past three years,” said Berry. “We’ve learned a lot about each other and have become really close friends. We have a blast on the water, and when it comes to a race, we know when to switch our focus.”
As with any pursuit, practice is the cornerstone of success. “Having two people in one boat requires a lot of communication, some telepathic, and co-ordination, which are two factors that really make a team successful,” Berry explained. “Practising our technique, understanding one another, and having fun are the leading factors that have lead us to being a successful duo.”
Closer to home, UVic emerged victorious in both the Sea to Sky Regatta and Western Canada Cup. The results scored in the past few months leave little doubt that UVic will continue to build respect on the international sailing stage.
The Vikes women’s golf team owned a commanding presence on the international stage, shooting their way to victory in the Lady Cougar Invitational in San Marcos, Calif., which ran March 2–3. Captain Brynn Tomie led the way for UVic with a tournament-best score of +7.
UVic had more success than usual south of the U.S. border recently, coming second overall in the Battle at Primm tournament in Primm Valley, Nev., on March 24–25. Rookie Laura Ferreira led the way for the Vikes this time, with Emily Nicol and Tomie following close behind her to boost UVic’s strong finish.
Back to the water, where the men’s and women’s rowing teams also dominated their fields this semester. At the Head of the Shawnigan meet up-island on Feb. 16, the women’s varsity eight boat, led by cox Rebecca Wilder, emerged first after the 7.5-kilometre race. The men’s varsity eight boat, led by cox Alexandra Clancy, finished second in their race, bested only by the team from Rowing Canada.
The Elk Lake Regatta on March 1–2 provided further opportunity for Vikes rowers to shine. UVic won a pair of races on the first day, crossing the finish line first in both the lightweight women’s single and the open men’s races.
On the second day, the men’s varsity eight boat found their rhythm and emerged victorious over rivals from the University of British Columbia (UBC). Sam Garber, part of the eight-man team, went on to capture first place in the lightweight men’s double, with Alex Walker, who had been in the boat for the open men’s win the day before.
UVic had one more victory in the regatta, with the junior varsity women’s four boat edging out Fraser Valley by a mere three-tenths of a second to secure the win. The Vikes were the highlight of the regatta thanks to the string of wins, a habit that continued into their next competition.
Again the men’s varsity eight boat took the top spot, powering their way to victory over Oregon State. After a race that needed a pair of restarts due to early collisions, the women’s novice boat rowed to victory in their 1400-kilometre race, over Oregon State and Gonzaga.
This past weekend saw another Vikes rowing victory, with the women’s reserve boat defeating UBC in their Brown Cup race on Saturday. The UBC Thunderbirds got the better of UVic on the day however, claiming the men’s reserve, as well as men’s and women’s varsity eight races. The 23rd annual event, which took place along the local Gorge Waterway, featured the final race for Vikes rowing captain Will O’Connell.
The open water was not the only aquatic area where the Vikes excelled these past months. Several UVic swimmers won at the CIS Championships in Toronto on Feb. 20–22.
The opening day of competition saw Keegan Zanetta swim to bronze in the 200-metre freestyle event, just over a second off the first-place mark. Zanetta would not have to wait long to get his gold however, leaving his competitors in the 400-metre freestyle well behind on day two, to claim the win. Stephanie Horner took home bronze in the 200-metre butterfly in an extremely tight race, with all three medallists finishing within .37 seconds of each other.
Day three closed with one final medal for UVic, as Jon McKay swam to a silver medal finish in the gruelling 1500-metre freestyle event. As a team, the Vikes men finished seventh in the nation, while the women’s combined scores saw them place 13th.
The Vikes men finished fourth overall in Canada in March. Despite a solid season, the women were knocked out in quarter finals in February.