Cowichan Valley athletes played crucial roles as University of Victoria Vikes teams claimed two national championships this fall.
Four players, all graduates of Cowichan Secondary School, helped UVic to its second consecutive USports field hockey title in early November, and two Valley products who graduated from Shawnigan Lake School were part of the Vikes squad that won its first national rugby title since 1998.
Ashton Aumen, Jenna Berard, Robin Fleming and Melanie Robertson helped UVic defeat the University of Guelph Gryphons in two straight games on Nov. 1 and 2 to sweep the best-of-three USports national championship series. Third-year Vikes Aumen and Fleming were on the team that won the national title in 2018 as well.
The Vikes went undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 2015 knocked off another Cow High grad, Canada West Player of the Year Sara Goodman and the UBC Thunderbirds to earn the Canada West championship. It marked the 19th conference banner for the Vikes field hockey program. It was the first time the Vikes have won two straight national championships since 1995, and the first time the team won a title at home since 2008.
UVic has collected 19 national field hockey championships overall, and 13 since 1984 under head coach Lynne Beecroft, another Cowichan Valley native and member of the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame.
“I am so excited for our athletes,” Beecroft said. “They are a great group of girls and they are really connected on and off the field. It’s just so exciting for them to be successful and have all this fan support.”
The runner-up Guelph Gryphons also featured Cowichan Valley talent in second-year player Nyah Miranda, a Shawnigan grad from Cobble Hill.
On Nov. 24, Duncan’s Jenner Teufel and Shawnigan Lake’s Teddy Zinkan, both former members of Shawnigan Lake School’s vaunted rugby program, helped their UVic team to a thrilling 21-20 win over UBC.
Teufel slotted three converts for UVic in the national final, and nearly added a late try to cap off the victory. He previously scored the Vikes’ first try of the tournament and kicked four converts in a 48-0 win over the University of New Brunswick, and kicked two converts in a 14-8 victory over Queen’s University.
The Vikes last won the national championship in 1997 and 1998 before the tournament went on hiatus. It returned two years ago, and UVic won silver and bronze medals in the years since.
In addition to Teufel and Zinkan, the UVic roster included fellow Shawnigan grads Nathan Bice, Mostyn Findlay, Nicholas Mouret and James O’Neill, and Brentwood College School alum Thomas Di Fiore. Runner-up UBC included Shawnigan products Evan Norris, Conor Sinclair and Dean Mason, and Brentwood’s Adam McQueen.