Volume 92, Issue 83
Wednesday, March 5, 1999
A two horse race for Ontario's track and field championship
© Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
By John Intini
The Western men's track team is hoping to not forget this weekend what they have learned to do all year how to win.
The Mustang men sprint to Windsor for the Ontario University Athletics championships this weekend with an undefeated season against Canadian schools but ranked third nationally behind top ranked Sherbrooke and second place Windsor. The national ranking is calculated by season statistics rather than from head-to-head competitions.
Although there will be 13 teams competing for the OUA men's championship, head coach Bob Vigars said the meet will be a two team struggle between the Mustangs, and the host Windsor Lancers.
"There are only two teams with the horses to compete for the top spot," Vigars said. "The other schools will nibble away by taking points in some of the events but don't have the depth to compete for the overall team title."
Individally the biggest threats from fringe schools are expected from York's sprint team and the distance teams from Queen's and Guelph.
Western's weakness is in distant running where veteran Jim Wardle is expected to carry most of the load, competing in the 1,000 metre, 1,500 m and 4x800 m relay.
"I feel a bit of pressure, especially in the 1,500 since I am the only Western athlete competing," Wardle said. "It pretty much means I have to win."
Adrian Jordan will also be weighed down with a busy schedule, competing in the 60 m and 300 m, as well the 4x200 m and 4x400 m relays.
Triple jumper Chris Robinson has yet to lose this year and will be putting his undefeated record and No. 1 provincial ranking on the line.
Windsor head coach Dennis Fairall agrees it is a two team race but feels the men's teams are more equal than most people think.
"It's not a question of Western's sprint teams against our distance club," he said. "There is equality across the board which is really going to show in the results."
There is even greater parity on the women's side.
Although Western and Windsor are the two favourites, a number of teams have a shot at the title. Last year's champions, the University of Toronto, lost a number of players to graduation which opens the door even wider for other schools, said Mustang distance runner Kristina Farr.
One thing working against the Mustangs is the size of the team, which Farr said is a shortcoming in field events. "We have some great field athletes but it's just we could use 50 more."
Team captain Maisie Hahn, who will compete in the 60 m hurdles, an event in which she is ranked No. 1 in Canada, as well as the 4x200 m and 4x400 m relays, likes her team's chances.
"Everybody is going to have to step up," she said. "Our training all year is tapered towards the end. We haven't come together as a team all year but it's time."
The meet begins today at Windsor's St. Denis Centre and concludes tomorrow afternoon.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999