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Making tracks to CIAUs
By Ryan Dixon
The Western track and field team will be drawing on their talent, focus and French skills this weekend as the head to Sherbrooke, Quebec for the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union championships.
The Western women head into the competition ranked second behind defending champions the University of Saskatchewan, while the Mustang men are rated sixth nationally.
Mustangs head coach Vickie Croley, said she is happy her rookie ladies are not entering the event with the top billing.
"I'm actually glad we are heading in [to the CIAUs] in this position because our team is very inexperienced. I do kind of feel more comfortable with less pressure on us. I think our athletes will be more relaxed and good things can happen," she said.
Of the 20 women Western has entered in the championships, seven are in their first year. The men are one shy of the rookie total as six of their 22 participants are freshman.
Women's co-captain Kate Saunders said she hopes the combination of the CIAU excitement and the fact that Western is a legitimate contender for the Canadian crown could make this a special event.
"The competition is so good and with the energy of the event I think athletes will really step it up. Also, we want to win. Even for the girls that are in their fifth year on the team this is our first real chance to win at CIAUs," she said.
Croley said the field is very level on the men's side, noting that the final outcome will be far from predictable.
"There's a lot of parity across the board, I would say there is about five points [on paper] separating the top four teams and we're not too far out. I'm confident our guys can move up," Croley said.
Both the men and women boast medal hopefuls in a handful of events, but the competition for that hardware will be tough. Croley said the depth of talent at the national championships make gaining points a real challenge for the team. "The difference between [Ontario University Athletics] and CIAUs is that it's a lot harder to get in the top six scorers."
Western sprinter Hubert Ling stands a good chance at taking home a medal in the 60 metre hurdles. In fact, Western can lay claim to three of the top five runners in that event.
"As a team, it's a definite possibility we will all end up in the final. I'm coming in ranked fourth but I'm going in there to win, just like everybody else," Ling said.
While winning is a top priority, Croley said this weekend can be a success without claiming the big prize. "If all our athletes go in and perform where they're at on paper I will be happy. I know we will have some personal bests. The atmosphere at CIAUs brings out the best in competitive athletes."