Volume 91, Issue 51

Thursday, November 27, 1997

Mike the Knife


Track stars ready to run

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
HOPE YOU DON'T PULL A MICHAEL JOHNSON. Roland Acheampong returns to the Mustangs in search of more glory after anchoring Western's 4x400 relay team to a gold medal at last year's CIAU track and field championship.

By Mike Sikorski
Gazette Staff

They're faster than a speeding bullet and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Well, maybe not, but they're pretty damn close – it's the Mustang men and women of Western's track and field teams.

Last year, Western's men had one of their best showings ever, finishing second in Ontario and winning a bronze medal at the CIAU championships. The upcoming season looks even more promising with seven all-Canadians returning, losing only two athletes to graduation.

Among the returning athletes are three members of the national champion 4x400-metre relay team, captain Roland Acheampong, Adrian Jordan and Jason Stern. Also, the gold-winning 4x800 relay team, will have three athletes returning – Mike Lander, Craig McFarquhar and Jim Wardle. All-Canadian triple jumper John Younker will also be wearing Mustang colours this season.

After last year's outstanding performance, men's coach Bob Vigars sees a lot of promise in this year's group.

"We're even better than last year," he said. "We were only beaten by [national champion] Sherbrooke and Windsor. I think we have the team this year that can beat them."

In addition to his veterans, Vigars feels there are several other athletes which may add more hardware to Western's trophy case. CIAU cross country champion Guy Shultz joins the squad and is a likely contender for the 3000-metre and a possible replacement for graduate all-Canadian Jon Foreman on the 4x800-metre relay team.

Western's depth of talent, combined with the fact many competing teams have also lost athletes to graduation, gives the men's team an excellent chance to win a national title.

On the women's side, both all-Canadians are returning to the team, giving them an excellent shot at besting their third-place finish provincially and their fourth-place national championship result.

Kristina Farr, who won the CIAU 600-metre event, will lead the women on the track, while Marie Ann Phillips will lead on the field after winning the gold in shot-put in the national finals.

"It is nice to have our two top athletes back to lead the team," women's coach Vickie Croley said about her team's star athletes.

Croley is also looking for a good season from Maisie Hahn, who finished fifth in the 60-metre hurdles at the CIAUs last year and Alison Innes who is Western's top 60-metre sprinter.

Distance events are among the squad's past weaknesses, but with the help of some of the younger team members, this may change.

"We're a little weak in the distance events and we have some rookies in the 1500-metre and 3000-metre, but they will need some time to develop," Croley said.

Western is especially strong in shot-put with the powerful platoon of Sylvia Kontra and Heather Brand joining the all-Canadian Phillips.

Emily Jansenburger will be a contender in the high jump, finishing fifth nationally and Danielle Marnintette will be Western's hope in the long and triple jumps.

"Marnintette is looking powerful and will have a good season," Croley said. "She has a good chance of being a double qualifier to the CIAU events."

Both teams will begin their season tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Thompson Arena.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997