VICTORIA, BC - UBC Okanagan's Veronika Fagan and Brittany Webster made up a strong one-two punch to lead the women's contingent at the Vikes Invitational hosted by the University of Victoria on Saturday at Beacon Hill Park.
Fagan finished the eight kilometres in 30:03, which was good enough to place her fourth overall. Webster clocked in at 30:20 and was the seventh female to cross the line.
Veronika Fagan was pleased with her finish but realizes the level the team is competing at and she is hungry for more.
"This race was an experience for me racing at the U SPORTS level. I had gotten comfortable with dropping girls early in the race and now I have to adjust and remember how to race till the bitter end," noted Fagan.
"I ran against many of these girls in high school so it's nice to be back, racing and having competition. I am ready to race and stick with Alison Irvine and Sarah Macarthur [Victoria and UBC runners who finished first and second] as that's where I know I am capable of racing."
"I love having competition and it only makes me more excited for my next races."
With Fagan and Webster's 11 points the Heat team totalled just 100 and placed fourth at the U SPORTS race.
Coach John Machuga was especially please with the results in what will be a good precursor of the remaining Canada West competitions on the schedule.
"This was a good opportunity to test ourselves against Canada West competition as seven of the 11 teams [in the conference] were competing at this race," explained the second-year coach.
"The women's team placed fourth," an excited Machuga adds, "They were led by an incredibly strong one, two combination. Veronika Fagan and Brittany Webster both tucked into the lead breakaway pack of six athletes."
"Veronika had a strong sprint finish to claim fourth place. Brittany followed in eighth (7th for university scoring) place. The team was rounded out by Nikki Chamberlain two first year students Sierra Cooper and Rylee Paulson, and all three were competing in their first eight kilometre ever."
Fagan's recount of the women's race:
"I went into this race knowing I would be running with the lead pack. The first 4km were a nice pace and the pack stayed together."
"After that the lead girl took off and that is when we dropped a few girls and it started to spread out. The last 2k I found myself in 5th place and fighting to stay with the pack."
"I beat the TWU top girl in the last 150m with a sprint finish managing to come 4th only 12 seconds behind the leader."
"Both the men's and women's teams were surprised by amount of contact in the races," noted Machuga on the style of the event.
On the men's side for UBCO it was Michael Mitchell the first member of the Heat to cross the line of the 10-kilometre loop, he was the 17th runner to cross the line with a time of 34:02.
The men finished fifth, thanks in large part to the scoring of Owen Harris and Turner Woodroff. The two OKM grads bunched together finishing in 25th and 26th with times of 36:11 and 36:24 respectively.
Alex Spice (37:58, 31st), and Dayton Bath (39:46, 35th) were the two remaining scoring runners for the Heat with Alex Santos (40:57, 37th) as a displacer.
"The men's team placed fifth in the race and were led by Mike Mitchell," Machuga explains.
"Owen Harris and first year student Turner Woodroff placed themselves in the main pack and finished strong. At the 6-kilometre mark the were sitting in 40th and 46th place with a strong second half they moved up over the last 4-kilometres to place 32nd and 34th in the overall race.
NOTE: Former UBC Okanagan cross country runner, Sandra Kilmartin, a 2018 grad of UBC's Vancouver campus, finished the race sixth (30:16) with her score not counted in the university event.