There's gold in them there birdies
Skating to the sixth symphony
Warriors can't solve the Mustangs' defence
One win away from clinching first
Wrestling for gold
Clark and Wood swim for silver at OUA finals
There's gold in them there birdies
By Chad Thompson
The Western badminton team struck gold this weekend as they topped the Ontario University Athletics championships.
Western beat the University of Toronto 6-5 in the semifinals and faced Queen's University in the finals. The match came down to the mixed doubles game, where a Western victory allowed the team to edge out Queen's 6-5 and take the OUA title.
Western head coach Bill Mason said they were elated by the results. "It was very exciting," he said. "The players are excited as they accomplished what they set out to do [at the beginning of the season.]"
One major obstacle facing the Mustangs was the loss of number one player Mike Twiner, who was unable to attend the meet due to academic responsibilities. As a result, the team rearranged their lineup and moved Leo Chiu up to the number one spot and Marcus Wong to the number two spot. This meant Wong had to compete in a singles match, as well as the men's doubles. Mason said the changes did not effect the team's confidence.
"We knew we had a strong team," he said, adding they knew in advance about Twiner's absence. "It was a tremendous opportunity because of the strength of our men and we know we match up well against any other team."
Western co-captain Sean Girty agreed with his coach's statement. "The core players all had to step up," he said. "Our [men's] team is deep."
Wayne King, head coach for U of T, said the semifinal matches between Western and his team were extremely tight.
"I think the match lasted five hours," he said, adding their game plan was to beat Western before the mixed doubles match. However, it was foiled when they didn't win a game in the men's round. "We knew we couldn't beat their mixed doubles team."
With Twiner absent, King said it effected their game plan a little. "I probably should have remembered, Mike told me he wasn't going to be there, I just forgot. We didn't find out [about the line change] until we got there."
Toronto finished with the bronze medal and King said he had nothing but praise for both Western and Mason, who took home OUA coach of the year honours. "I want to congratulate Western, they had a great year," he said. "Bill won coach of the year and deservedly so."
In the match against Queen's, Mason said Carolyn Smith and Wong were the go to guys. "Carolyn has always been our 'go to' player right from her first year," he said of the fourth-year player. "Whenever a match comes down to the final match we put her in. She comes through every time. Marcus came through as well. We have the utmost confidence in both of them. The team really pulled together and gave it all they had."
Girty added the history between the two players has manifested itself in strong performances. "They have gelled over the two years and played well together. They have ice in their veins they are really focused."
"We kicked butt," Smith said. "We all played well and there was extreme pressure because we wanted to win badly we knew we had the ability to do it."
Smith added when the final shot landed on the court, the team could not contain their excitement. "As soon as the bird dropped, everyone was around the court cheering and taking photos."