Farr above the expectations
By John Intini
Switching from short to long distance running can be too great a challenge for most, but according to Western's cross-country coach Bob Vigars, captain Kristina Farr has made the transition in perfect stride.
On Sept. 6, Farr came in 12th at the annual University of Detroit Mercy Cross-Country Running Invitational in Northville, Michigan. Western's female team ended up seventh out of 14 entries, which included the University of Windsor and a number of small American colleges.
Vigars asserts, Farr ran an impressive race and with her leadership abilities, will be a positive influence on this year's team.
"This was definitely Kristina's best race of her short career," said Vigars. "She matured nicely over the last year and has really stepped it up as our team captain."
Farr is a national champion in the 600-metres and is one of Western's top track stars. She decided to try her feet at a new challenge last year, when she signed up with the cross-country contingent.
"I ran cross-country in high school and early last year I thought I'd try it again," Farr said. "It's really tough because of my inexperience, but I hope I can contribute all year to the team."
To date, Farr has looked right at home in her new event, something Vigars gives her great credit for.
"Her ability to excel at this new level of track this quickly is incredible," he said. "The change from running 600 metres to 5,000 metres is huge and she has accomplished it in just over a season."
The invitational offered Western an opportunity to train for the upcoming season, which doesn't officially get under way until Sept. 20, when Western will host its annual international meet.
"The last time that we went to the Detroit meet was in 1993 and it was pretty low key," Vigars said. "For some reason this year, a much larger talent base was out and took us a little by surprise."
Vigars said that in order to have done really well, all of his top guns would have had to be out.
"The meet was a lot deeper than expected," he said. "Some of our guys needed rest and we had a few injuries we couldn't push. The whole point of this sport is being able to get things rolling at the end of the year and into the playoffs."
On the men's side, Guy Schultz had a solid run finishing third in the men's four-mile race and was the first varsity student to finish the open event. A University of Alabama graduate, Schultz will be a great boost to the Mustang club.
Looking at Western's other runners, Tyler Coady is returning to the team after a year off in a work-study program. Coady was an OUAA All-Star in 1995 and should provide depth to a team stacked with experience. Jim Wardle, who is known for his slow starts and is back as the team's captain, finished 31st. Overall the men's team came in sixth.
"The men's team should definitely challenge at the nationals this year," Vigars said. "When Jim Wardle is your third-best runner it is certainly a sign of great depth. The men finished in second at the CIAUs last year and will be there again this season if not at the top."
Both the men and women will take part in one more tune-up meet this Saturday at the University of Buffalo Invitational.