Volume 91, Issue 54
Wednesday, December 3, 1997
1997 Gazette sport year in review
It's that time again, when Western sports buffs can finally look back at the year of hitting, hooping, chucking and rucking and remember the stories and glories. The Gazette sports section took a journey through the calendar year and came to numerous conclusions: A) It was a good year to be a Mustang basketball, soccer and rugby fan; B) You can't always get what you want (trophy-wise, anyway); and C) Holidays are good.
Football After a 16-year career with the Mustang football team, offensive coordinator Greg Marshall bid farewell to his Alma Mater to take the head coaching position at McMaster. Over the past three decades, Marshall spent four seasons on the field, twice being named an all-Canadian and 12 years on the sidelines filling various coaching duties. Chosen by Mac to add a scoring punch to a team that recorded a total of 35 points in the previous season, Marshall felt it was his time to move on and take up a new challenge.
Men's Rugby Western's ruggers headed to Ireland in the first sanctioned trip outside of Canada in the team's history. A sibling rivalry took place in the first game as head coach Gerry Slattery's Mustangs faced the Richmond Rugby Club coached by Slattery's brother. Before departing, the team also played the University College Cork in Dublin, Queen's University in Belfast and the University of Limerick.
Men's Volleyball Geoff Miller, a three-time captain of Western's spikers, bid farewell to the game after failing to lead his team to a playoff berth. Giving last performances were Rob Mizak and Colin Shawyer. Chances at a national title ended with a loss in the West division semifinal to Laurier.
Cheerleading After determining that there was no longer any serious competition in Canada, the pep squad headed south and took home the title at the United Performance Association's American Cheerleading Championships in Minnesota. Mark Ideson finished the preliminary competition with dramatic effort after tearing both of his medial collateral and anterior crusiate ligaments during the routine.
Track and Field After the death of his sister only the week before, Western sprinter Roland Acheampong redirected his emotions and took home three golds and one bronze at the Ontario finals in North York. Winning both the 4 X 200-metre and 4 X 400-metre relays and the 600-metre race, Acheampong ran some of his best races of the year, finishing second in the vote for the athlete of the meet honours.
Men's Basketball Western's arch nemesis Guelph Gryphons destroyed the veteran Mustangs' hopes of an invitation to the national championships after losing to the Gryphons 83-77 in the Ontario West semifinals.
Women's Basketball? After an undefeated season in the Ontario West, the team accepted a wild card invitation to the national championships in Thunder Bay and took home the bronze medal. Ranked sixth heading into the tournament, the women upset the Victoria Vikes and University of Toronto Blues, but were unable to knock off the eventual national champion Manitoba Bisons.
Track and Field The team finished with a school record, 57-4, after finishing the season fifth in the country at the Canadian championships. Ten Mustangs in total were gold medalists and awarded all-Canadian honours.
Varsity Derek Krete won the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy for outstanding male athlete of the year and Angela Nobes was awarded the F.W.P. Jones Trophy for female athlete of the year. In total, 12 Western athletes took home purple blankets.
Men's Hockey The team finished off the season on a torrid five-game winning streak and then won their first three games in the playoffs before being stopped by York in the West final.
Women's Volleyball The team finished in first place in the West division with a 13-1 record before faltering in the OWIAA playoffs, losing to York in the semifinals and then beating McMaster in the bronze medal match.
Women's Hockey Western's Thompson Arena played host to Team U.S.A. and Team Sweden for a tournament game in the Women's World Hockey Championships.
Football Two Mustang linebackers were drafted in the Canadian Football League's college draft. Patrice Denis, the team's former captain, was picked by the Edmonton Eskimos as the 16th choice, while President's Trophy winner Derek Krete was drafted 29th overall by the Montréal Alouettes.
Football The Mustang football team travelled to Osaka, Japan to play an exhibition game against four host schools. Western won handily 69-7, not allowing a score until the fourth quarter.
London London is awarded the 2001 Canada Summer Games, beating out nine other cities. Western's athletic facilities will play host to several events and the possibility of building a new state-of-the-art stadium is considered.
Cross-Country Guy Schultz is given permission to join the Western cross-country team and begins what turns into a storybook season with his first win at the Western International meet.
Football In a highly-contested defensive battle, Western drops their Homecoming game 20-13 to Waterloo in their only loss in the regular season. Mustang football coach Larry Haylor was suspended by the OUA for his conduct in Western's game versus McMaster on Oct. 25. In what was labeled as "verbal abuse towards the official," Haylor was barred from being in the stadium for Western's OUA semifinal game versus Guelph.
Cross-Country Guy Schultz capped off a perfect season winning the CIAU cross-country championships at the Thames Valley Golf Course in London. Schultz lived up to his CIAU MVP billing by establishing a new course record, completing the 10km race in a time of 30:57 and shaving 14 seconds off his personal best time. The men's team would go on to finish second in the overall standings while a young and inexperienced women's team placed eighth.
Men's Rugby The Western men's rugby team won their first OUA title in 20 years by beating four-time defending champion Queen's 17-11. Scoring tries for the Mustangs were Chris Foster, Clark Larmon and Ed Gardner. Meanwhile, the win was bittersweet for Western captain and former Queen's Golden Gael Rob Wernstine, who arrived as a transfer student in September.
Men's Soccer After beating Laurier 2-1 for the OUA West division title, the Mustang men's soccer team won a second consecutive OUA title, squeezing by York 1-0 in penalty kicks. Unfortunately, their playoff success would end at the nationals as Western was shutout 1-0 by UBC and 4-0 by Dalhousie at the CIAU championships held in Halifax.
Women's Rugby After a tough season, the women finished third at the Ontario Championships, losing to York in the semifinals before winning the bronze medal game.
Women's Rowing Erin Crawford and rookie Leanne Niven, both natives of St. Catharines, helped the Mustang women's rowing team finish 101 points better than Queen's to capture the OUA title. Niven won two gold medals, one in the lightweight singles and in the other in the doubles with teammate Katie Clifford. Meanwhile, Crawford won gold in the heavyweight doubles with Cara Gillis and took silver in the heavyweight singles.
Men's Rowing Dafydd Davies won the OUA heavyweight singles race and placed second in the lightweight men's eight leading the Western men's rowing team to an overall title at the provincial finals held on the Henley Island race course in St. Catharines.
Football Waterloo claims its first ever OUA football title, running over Western 30-10 in the Yates Cup final. On the opening drive of the game, Waterloo quarterback Ryan Wilkinson ran for a 75-yard touchdown and the Warriors aggressive defence would never relinquish the lead.
Men's Basketball Mustang forward Chris Webber was removed from the team in the middle of the exhibition season for breaking the team's code of conduct rules.
Ian Ross, Alex Chiang, John Intini
Photos by Tom Baumgartner and Geoff Robins
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997