Women run into trouble
By Ian Ross
After months of training and focus, the Western women's track and field team put on their season finale at the national championships in Windsor on the weekend but left with mixed reviews.
Tied for eighth when the curtain dropped, even with the nucleus of last season's team still intact, Western was unable to match their third-place finish from a year ago.
Western head coach Vicki Croley said the team was unable to reach their potential.
"Quality-wise we are not a different team," she said. "Last year, our athletes did exactly what they were capable of doing. This year I would gauge our success rate at 80 per cent."
Mustang long distance runner Kristina Farr pointed to the most important factor for any team facing high competition. "The key is to put it together at the right time and place," she said.
Farr added that a number of factors raised the level of competition the Mustangs faced this year in Windsor, including the return of several athletes from American schools who came to Canada for graduate school.
University of Toronto head coach Carl Georgevski agreed that the meet was attended by many talented athletes this season. "Only a couple of records were set, but every event was highly competitive," he said.
Returning to the nationals as defending champions in their respective events, both Farr and shot-putter Mary-Ann Philips were unable to repeat as national champions.
Farr, who captured the 600-metre gold last year, could not keep up with a stacked line-up and finished fifth in her field.
"I peaked too early and couldn't hang on," she said. "But I look back at the race and I know that I gave it everything I could."
Philips returned as the reigning women's shot-put champion, but tough competition once again foiled Western's golden hopes and she finished with a silver medal.
"What happens sometimes is that things fall beyond the athletes control," McGill head coach Dennis Barrett said. "Even if an athlete goes in to defend, I just tell them to do their best. If things don't work out then they need to step back and analyze it to gain something positive out of the experience."
Lacking the pressure of defending a national title, Mustang Sue Thompson impressed the field with a bronze medal finish in the pole vault.
"Pole vault is so unpredictable. A lot of good athletes can go in and get no height," Croley said.
Also grabbing bronze for Western was Maisie Hahn, who finished third in the 60-metre hurdles.