Cody Jones: Vikings lead the scramble at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational
From the moment the Vikings rolled out of the San Jose County airport, with sunglasses and California light rays soaking vitamin D-deficient bodies, the Vikings were serious. Although the Vikings traveled to a location commonly associated with vacations, it was another business trip for the Vikings before they entered the championship racing portion of the season.
On the men’s side, the main goals of the competition were to beat UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, two ranked opponents in the USTFCCCA West Region. If the Viking men beat them, then they could solidify their place in the West before going to the Big Sky Conference Championships on October 29.
On the women’s side, the main goal was to compete well with the University of San Francisco, which historically had a well-rounded women’s team and would look to win the competition.
As the team arrived at Baylands Park for their pre-game run, you could actively feel the excitement building. The last three weeks have been important for the Viking teams as they worked in silence without interrupting a race. Three consecutive weeks of two workouts per week – near or at maximum mileage – took their toll on the Viks, but it also improved them both physically and mentally after the Roy Griak Invitational on September 24.
As the Vikings raced the course with RC planes diving overhead, the mood was light and the quiet confidence that had developed over the past three weeks continued to blossom. It would only be a matter of hours before the Vikings had a chance to showcase that confidence.
The morning race scene looked a lot like the start of an old western. The Vikings sat at picnic tables, mostly silent, with their hands in their pockets, as the sun rose over the horizon in the early hours of the morning. Many faces stared out at this horizon, almost expecting their competition to gallop in a cloud of dust in the wake of the orange glow of sunrise.
Men were the first to face their adversaries. The peloton sprinted the first 200 meters, eager to get into a good position before the course became congested. It didn’t take long for the Viks to take the position they wanted to be in the race.
Jordan macintosh, Josh snyder, and Kenyan Abdi led the charge from the start, being part of the lead pack together as teammates. It was a sight to see with the three of them at the front of the peloton, occasionally conversing with each other as they collectively attempted to break up the rest of the peloton.
Towards the second half of the race, the leading peloton broke away from the peloton with the three Vikings remaining stoically at the front, propelling themselves towards the finish. As the trio rushed towards the finish line, each tried to find other equipment to beat the other across the line. In the end, Josh won the intra-team battle, crossing the finish line second overall in a time of 23:40. Jordan and Kenya followed in 3rd (23:43) and 5th (23:47) respectively, meaning the Viks not only placed three in the top 10, but three also fell below 24. minutes.
The Viking men also had incredible performances from both Evan peters and Drew seidel. After having poor performances at Roy Griak, Evan and Drew spent a day in Santa Clara. Drew in particular had struggled the past few weeks, as he wondered if his remarkable performance at the Viking Rust Buster was a “fluke” or if he was going to run below his expectations again in California.
However, Drew got past those thoughts and looked like Viking Rust Buster: Strong. Evan and Drew ran good races until the end as the two achieved personal bests, separated from each other by just seconds. Evan crossed the finish line as the fifth male Viking rider with Seidel sixth on the day, both just behind Luc Ramirez.
The performances of these Vikings led the team to dominate the competition. The Vikings scored just 67 points, beating Cal Poly by 37 points in the process.
On the women’s side, the Vikings have shown just how fierce they can be in packs. From the cannon, the contestants tried to push and nudge the Viking women, but their resolve remained intact and little to no ground was given up.
Katie Camarena did her thing up front, showing off her veteran status as she ran. Katie really got the jets on for the last mile of the race, trying to stay third. Camarena ended up crossing the finish line just fractions of a second above the 20-minute barrier in third place. Camarena’s dominant run was enough to get her the school’s new record in the six-kilometer race, beating the old mark by 48 seconds.
As she caught her breath, her Viking teammates continued to run for the tag team battle. Maya irving was the second Vik through and 7th overall in a new personal best of 20:37. Maya was followed by Storm Hunter in 11, Liza Sajn in 16th, with Abi Swain 22nd and completing the score of five, all running personal bests.
The Viking women easily beat Cal Poly in third place scoring just 59 points. The Viking women were also just 13 points behind the University of San Francisco. Like the men, the women were blown up by their performances as they all warmed up together, shouting loudly for a teammate in the process.
The Viks stayed in a good mood as they roamed downtown San Jose on Lime scooters and enjoyed the local restaurants. As Captain Luke Rameriz pointed out towards the end of the trip, as many Viks force-fed themselves at Chick-fil-a Airport, this may be the best encounter the Vikings have ever had. had as a program of recent history. With the men winning, the women securing second place, school records reset and personal bests achieved, it’s hard to disagree.
The hope is that the momentum will continue as the Vikings embark on final preparations for the Big Sky Conference reunion on October 29 at the Meriwether National Golf Course. This weekend only served as a dress rehearsal for the two main events in a few weeks.