Excerpt courtesy Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian
An individual men's cross-country race at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference race is eight kilometres. The path to the podium has been much longer for Ferintosh native Joedy Dalke, but as he heads into the provincial championship, it is within reach for the first time in five years.
The University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings fifth-year senior has consistently finished grand prix races in the top 10 throughout his career, he's even snagged a couple of bronze medals along the way, but his bronze medal on Saturday at the final Grand Prix stop of the season in Camrose was different. This was the most competitive field he has medalled in, with every competing ACAC school in attendance as the final tune up before the ACAC championships in Red Deer. He also did it by shattering his personal best by 14 seconds, his previous best was 28 minutes and 32 seconds at nationals last year on a flat course.
"The timing is awesome to have a good race is just a huge confidence booster," said Dalke, who will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with a PhysEd major and a psychology minor and is looking at getting a Bachelor of Education degree. "I'm going into provincials knowing what I'm capable of and I've never raced this well before."
The ACAC championships are Oct. 28 in Red Deer, on the same course Dalke finished fifth on earlier this year. It is an easier, flatter course than the one at the Stoney Creek Centre in Camrose, so it may bring other runners into contention, but it also means he should be faster as well.
Co-coach Robert Renman has watched his pupil come a long way since he started competing for the club, saying it is his dedication this year that has made the biggest difference in his performances.
"It's wonderful when runners develop that way and keep getting better," said Renman. "He's trained harder than he ever has before, and as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect … It's the kind of sport where if you do enough and the right type of work, the results will tend to come."
The Vikings men had a strong finish as a team overall, and are currently ranked second in the province and fifth in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association, one spot behind the SAIT Trojans in both instances. On Saturday, Erik Rust (29:03), Matt Martin (29:16) was eighth, Michio Green (29:19) ninth, and Emile Vogel-Nakamura (30:09) 11th. The four finishers inside the top 15 tied with RDC for the most of any school, though the Kings only had one in the top 10, Adam Wass (29:08) finished seventh.