Women fall just short of national crown
By Ian Ross
It's common knowledge that it only takes one to spoil a party. On Saturday in Waterloo, it took an entire squad from the University of Victoria to sabotage victory for the Western women's cross country team.
Ranked No. 1 one in the nation, the Mustangs were unable to catch the Vikes of Victoria and finished in second place a quantum leap from their eighth place position a year ago.
Western head coach Bob Vigars was not surprised by the speed of Victoria, but felt some members of his team failed to race at their top performance, giving the Vikes the edge they needed.
"Our talent was there to win," Vigars explained. "It wasn't talent that stopped us. Some people were just not there 100 per cent mentally."
Guelph head coach Dave Scott-Thomas agreed mental preparation and the ability to handle the stress under such circumstances is both difficult and important.
"To win you have to be a controlled athlete," Scott-Thomas said. "You really have to keep your wits with you."
In addition to the team silver medal, several individual Mustangs shined on the day. Becky Martyn ripped up the course for a personal best time of 18:39, good for eighth place. Teammate Kristina Farr followed right behind for ninth spot.
Although her team was unable to capture the national crown, Martyn took an optimistic viewpoint on the performance of the team.
"Not finishing in first may sit in the back of my mind but I'll get over that," she said, with an upbeat tone. "It's still great to come in second in the nation."
While the women's team was battling for top spot, the men were fighting for respectability. Two weeks ago, the men upset Queen's to take bronze at the provincial championships and another underdog triumph was again on the agenda. Unfortunately, lightning did not strike twice for Western and the team ended the day in eighth place overall.
Charley Murphy was a bright spot on the squad for Western, finishing in 10th place with teammate Jim Wardle crossing the finish line 20 seconds later for 22nd place.
"Last year there was a lot of front runners but this year the competition was very deep," Murphy said, commenting on the tough talent pool the men raced against.
Murphy added the team was aiming for a sixth or seventh place finish but was still happy with the end result.
Vigars pointed to the lack of experience with his fourth and fifth runners as a major handicap heading into the championships.
"We ran over our heads at the Ontario championships," Vigars said. "We just don't have the depth and that became really evident."
The Windsor Lancers ruled the day on the men's side capturing the overall title. Individual honours went to Martyn, Farr and Murphy who were awarded second team all-Canadian honours for their racing performance.