Volume 91, Issue 66

Tuesday, January 27, 1998



Mustangs burn up McGill track

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
FIRST ONE HOME GETS TO STUD. Western's running horses have helped the Mustang men's track team lay claim to the country's number one ranking, while the women are not so far off at number four.

By Jason Valentin

Gazette Staff

Western's track and field team continued its strong season as both the men's and women's teams finished on top at the McGill Team Challenge in Montreal on Saturday. On this day, however, the decision of McGill organizers took centre stage.

Along with the McGill Team Challenge Track and Field Invitational, McGill organizers, headed by McGill track coach Dennis Barrett, hosted the Belgium versus Quebec Varsity Challenge. The running of two meets at the same time did not make participating Ontario university coaches happy.

Western head coach Bob Vigars was one of the main dissenters.

"The pressure to hold two meets in one was not a wise idea," he said. "It is correctable but was not even as good as last year."

Sue Wise, coach of the York track contingent, joined Vigars in criticizing the running of the McGill challenge.

"The officials were unorganized, hurdles were not set up properly and the scheduling was thrown off by the two meets running together."

To say politics permeates everything is not an understatement, since it was politics that prompted Barrett to run both events simultaneously.

"It must be understood that I live in a province where you must be politically correct," he said.

The politics of the meet affected the Western men's team development as they were denied a chance to face off against the University of Sherbrooke, Western's rivals for the national title.

"Not only did the Quebec versus Belgium meet slow things down, but we could not go against a full Sherbrooke team who sent half of their team, the majority of the national team members, to the Belgium competition," Vigars said.

Barrett tried to pave over the scheduling controversy, saying he had a lot of teams interested in the Belgium competition, which played a role above and beyond politics.

On the track, both Mustang coaches were extremely happy with the overall results. The Montreal meet saw the Mustangs put forth a total team effort with the entire squad contributing to the first-place finish and a number one CIAU ranking.

"I am really pleased with the team so far," Vigars said. "It was the best meet of the year.

"We were in every final and all but two of our athletes medelled. Quite a few athletes stood out for us. Our new people and past background athletes have moved in to supplement our strong veteran talent."

Despite the first-place finish and a place at the top of the national rankings, Vigars is cautious when looking ahead.

"We have a ways to go yet as we have not been able to put our best team out there," he said. "With injury problems we just want to get healthy and stay healthy."

All-Canadian runner Roland Acheampong and Garry Stoddard were out with hamstring injuries.

There is definitely a long way to go until the provincials in the first week of March and the nationals the following week and Vigars said Sherbrooke, the defending national champion, will be the team to beat.

The Mustang women have been equally as dominant this year with the McGill meet being one of their best, Western head coach Vicki Croley said. "We had solid performances across the board."

The improvement in Western's team results is obvious in the variety of individual performances.

"With all of the season bests and personal bests at this time of the year and with all of the training, I am very pleased," Croley said.

York coach Wise was complementary of the Mustang women, saying they have unmatched depth.

Maisie Hahn (60-metre), Mary Ann Phillips (shot-put), Heather Brabd (shot-put) and Caitlin Wright (long jump) all had personal bests.

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998