Volume 90, Issue 88
Wednesday, March 12, 1997
By John Intini
The CIAU track and field championships in Windsor last weekend turned into a gold rush for the Western Mustang squad, putting to rest a storybook season for the Western men.
By defeating 18 teams at the national meet at the St. Denis Athletic Centre on March 7-8, in addition to the 39 teams it beat in multi-team meets during the season, the Mustang men's team finished the year fifth in the country with a record of 57-4 a Western best. Third in the CIAUs, the Mustangs were edged out only by second-place Windsor and champion Sherbrooke.
"I knew that we had the horses and everybody had an incredible meet," Western men's head coach Bob Vigars said. "If it wasn't for Sherbrooke's 19 points in the 300m, we would definitely have been in contention."
Gold medalists at the meet included two Mustang women and eight Western men, all of whom made the all-Canadian team.
On the men's side, the 4x800m relay team won the first gold on the opening day of competition. The team consisting of rookie Craig McFarquhar, captain Jon Foreman, Jim Wardle and anchor Mike Lander was able to run a calculated race and nose out the competition in the last leg. The four finalists' times were within 80/100ths of a second from each other.
The other four gold medals were presented to the 4x400m relay team which was seeded second to Sherbrooke going into the race. Tim Spadzinski started off the race and kept the 'Stangs close before handing off to Adrian Jordan. Jordan passed the baton to rookie Jason Stern and he in turn passed to explosive anchor Roland Acheampong, who turned it on in the last 200 metres to catch the Sherbrooke favourites. With about 100 metres, he motored by the Sherbrooke leader to claim the gold.
"Roland had just an incredible meet," Vigars said. "The death of his sister was beginning to set in this week and his performance showed what incredible character and poise he has.
"He's an inspiration."
Acheampong was the busiest Mustang at the meet. Not only did he race with the 4x400m relay team, but he also took part in the 600m and 300m winning a bronze in the first race and coming fifth in the 300m.
His performance was recognized by the CIAU committee which made him one of three finalists for the meet's most valuable player award.
In women's competition, the Mustangs came fourth behind Toronto, Windsor and Waterloo. Mary-Ann Phillips was golden in the shot put after throwing a personal best of 14.06 metres on her final toss of the competition. Not only was this mark worthy of a gold medal, but it was also a personal best and earned her a first team all-Canadian placing.
"I was really pleased with my performance," Phillips said. "Although I wasn't expecting to win the gold, I was anticipating a solid meet just based on how the season had gone so far."
Kristina Farr, who won silver at last year's nationals in the 600m, ran a strategic race, edging out Melissa Chenard of Sherbrooke at the finish line for the gold. Farr also received a spot on the all-Canadian team.
In another notable performance, triple jumper Jon Younker won the bronze medal with a jump of 14.73 metres. This completed a season in which Younker won a medal in each of the nine meets he entered. Billie-Jane Bolton won her first ever CIAU medal in the long jump with a leap of 5.84 metres and Jim Wardle finished in fifth place in both the 1,000m and 1,500m races.
"Jim's performance was great in all of his races," Vigars said. "If it wasn't for Roland's big meet, Jim would definitely have been our meet MVP."
Vigars was named OUAA track and field coach of the year and was honoured by the recognition, stating it is great to be recognized by one's colleagues. However, he said the important thing is that next year's squad, which loses only triple jumper Garry Stoddard to graduation, will be ready to compete against younger and less-experienced Sherbrooke and Windsor clubs.
"Both top teams at the nationals are losing a fair number of their top athletes to graduation," he said. "With another year of maturity we will certainly be a force next year and in the thick of things for the national title."
©all photos by Sean Burges/Gazette
FROM TOP LEFT. Mustangs Jim Wardle, Kristina Farr, Billy-Jane Bolton, men's 4x800 team, Tim Spadzinski, Mary-Anne Phillips and Jon Younker
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