A stern Bolton strikes gold
By Brendan Howe
The Don Wright Team Challenge hosted by Western Friday turned out to be little challenge for the Mustang men's and women's track and field squads they annihilated considerably weaker outfits from Windsor, McGill and Buffalo.
The defending men's champs from Windsor failed to reclaim their crown when the Mustangs defeated them handily by 44 points with a score of 116. In doing so, Western won a meet it hadn't won in six years.
"Some of our athletes didn't perform up to their capabilities," Windsor coach Dennis Fairall said. "We were without a couple of our top CIAU performers because of sickness and injury. Our team was at about 80 per cent."
On the women's side, the Mustangs easily managed to defend their title by winning with a team score of 107 points, 31 more than runner-up Windsor.
A number of exceptional individual performances took place at the meet including fine showings in three different events by Mustang athlete Billie-Jane Bolton. Thrashing a 20-year-old school record in the long jump, Bolton defeated all-Canadian Stephanie Gouin to take first place.
"It was a great feeling to break the record," Bolton said. "It was a great time for it to happen too."
Bolton is a fourth-year engineering student who didn't compete in her second year because of a heavy course load. One of the most well-rounded athletes on the team, Bolton now competes in three different events and was an academic all-Canadian and Rhodes Scholar candidate last year.
In her other events the 60-metre dash and the 4 x 200 relay, she struck gold again. In the 60-metre, Bolton clocked in at 8:02 to defeat Marcia Rodney of Windsor and was the lead runner on the Mustangs' 4 x 200 relay team. That team included veterans Ann-Marie Burton and Aiisha Huggins, as well as rookie Alison Innes who anchored the team to a narrow victory by a margin of 14 seconds.
Rookie sensation Jason Stern had a fine performance for the men's squad, reaching the top of the podium three times, once in the 60-metre and twice on relay teams. Though he won the 60-metre he failed to better his personal best time. Stern still managed to defeat teammates Rob Couto and Todd MacKay who rounded out the sweep in that event.
"Stern is just an outstanding athlete," team captain Jon Foreman said.
As well as winning the 60-metre, Stern led off both the 4 x 200 relay and the 4 x 400 relay teams two gold medals for Western.
With outstanding rookie and veteran performances at the meet the team has proved it has extensive depth and a wealth of experience to guide it through the season. This weekend's Can-Am meet in Windsor should again showcase the talents of this year's Don Wright Team Challenge champions.
ŠSean Burges and Geoff Robins/Gazette
WOULD THE REAL DON WRIGHT PLEASE STEP FORWARD? Alumni Don Wright, bottom left, watched Western run away with Friday's track and field meet at Thompson Arena. The event is named in his honour for the contributions he has made to varsity athletics.