Younker leaps onto the scene
By Brendan Howe
Hearing you've been cut from the basketball team might deflate some people, but not Mustang triple jumper Jon Younker.
Having missed the cut with the basketball team in his first year, Younker has participated as a member of the track team for the last two years. He burst onto the scene this season with a CIAU standard jump in the first meet of the season qualifying him for the nationals.
Last weekend in Montreal at the McGill Team Challenge, Younker won golden honours by leaping to a personal best of 14.59m, defeating teammates Chris Robinson and Garry Stoddard.
"He keeps getting better every year," coach Bob Vigars said. "He wasn't even a 14-metre jumper until February last year."
Hailing from the small university town of Lennoxville, Que., Younker played basketball everyday while track was just something to do in the off season. It wasn't until he came to Western that track took priority.
"I never really had a good coach in high school," Younker said. "It wasn't until I came here that I got some real coaching."
In his inaugural year on the track team Younker was a mediocre triple jumper spending the first half of the season with jumps that didn't surpass the 14-metre mark. With a vigorous weight training and practice schedule over the summer, Younker improved drastically and now ranks among the best in the CIAU.
Younker excels with his hard work throughout the year and his determination when competing in meets. Even with his great performances to date, Younker is the first to say that his CIAU ranking of third is well challenged by other athletes in the league.
Roommate and team co-captain Garry Stoddard has been friends with Younker since the triple jumper joined the team last year.
"He's a quiet guy," Stoddard said. "An excellent triple jumper and a hard worker."
Younker started off this season as a surprise after drastically improving over the summer. Ever since the Purple and White intrasquad meet in November he's been no surprise, consistently reaching the podium and raising the men's team's medal count.
Part of this great success has been attributed to the rivalry that goes on between he and his teammates. With three of the top four jumpers in the country from Western there is always someone pushing Younker to do better or else risk watching his two teammates step onto the podium without him. His final test will come at the CIAU finals at Windsor in March.