Volume 91, Issue 87

Friday, March 13, 1998

Bottoms up


Western set to track down title

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
BOY WOULD I LOVE A WALKMAN. Mustang distance star Mike Lander, who is also a music major, is ranked first in the country in the 1000-metres and hopes to be well ahead of the pack when his team competes at the nationals in Windsor this weekend.

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

The Western Mustang men's track and field team may be a little worse for wear going into its last week of competition, but a few bumps and bruises are not going to stop them from taking a run at a national championship this weekend in Windsor.

In a season that has been marred by injuries, the Mustangs ended a 25-year drought in the Ontario finals, when they beat the Windsor Lancers last weekend to secure themselves their first provincial title in a quarter of a century. However, the Mustangs had little time to celebrate their provincial title since the national championships, being held at the St. Denis Centre, begin today.

"The guys were possessed last week," said Western head coach Bob Vigars. "We have had a really tough year with injuries, yet have continued to be successful. With the short time between meets we will have to rely on tremendous endurance."

Injuries have plagued the team all year, currently sidelining distance runner Jim Wardle (sprained ankle), Phil Mullin (hip injury) both questionable for this weekend's meet.

Nagging injuries have hampered the performances of key stars such as Roland Acheampong, who has had hamstring problems all season.

Surprisingly, even with a plethora of injuries, the team has been able to persevere, now standing poised to challenge for the nation's top spot. Sherbrooke is currently atop the national ranking board, but only four points separate them and the second-place Mustangs.

"We are definitely in striking distance and have nicely put ourselves in a position of the hunter, rather than the hunted," Vigars said. "It is going to come down to who can keep their composure this weekend."

Although the club is close to a national championship, distance runner Mike Lander said a lot will have to go right in order for the Mustangs to win, since he felt that although gratifying, the OUA victory was mostly due to a lack of execution on the part of the Lancers.

"On paper, Windsor is a better team than us," he said. "We will have to truly perform at the top of our game if we even think of having a legitimate shot at competing to be the national champion."

Teammate John Younker, a bronze medalist in the triple jump at the OUA finals, agreed with Lander's statements, stating that in order for the Mustangs to overcome the sprinting power of the Green and Gold from Sherbrooke, all Mustangs "will have to exceed personal bests."

Captain Acheampong, Lander and Adrian Jordan, the CIAU's No.1 ranked runner in the 1000-metre as well as three-time gold medalist at the Ontario finals, will be looked to for leadership this weekend.

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998