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Running on empty at OUAs
Western cross country team stumbles
By Ryan Dixon
If nothing else, Western's cross-country coach Bob Vigars doesn't try to kid anybody about the state of his team.
"We were a bit like the black knight in [Monty Python's] The Quest for the Holy Grail no arms, no legs, but we still thought we could fight,'" Vigars said of his team's condition heading into the Ontario University Athletics cross-country championships in Guelph on the weekend.
Western could have used a little more leg power, as the Mustang men finished sixth, while the women trotted home in fifth place.
"We really didn't have [our desired level of performance], but you don't want to admit that until you're flat on your back. I told [the team] early on we wouldn't get to the level we wanted," the coach said.
According to Vigars, the fifth place finish was by no means a poor showing, it was just an accurate indication of where Western stands in relation to their competition. "I think that [Western ran to it's potential] In some ways, some people ran over their heads," Vigars said.
Dave Van Dyck/Gazette
MY LUNGS ARE STRONG
LIKE BULL. Women's cross-country runner Karen Gilbert
looks to fly by the competition.
The coach added the competition was simply too stiff.
"We didn't fail, we just weren't that good. The teams who beat us didn't upset us, they were better than us," he said.
One of the Mustangs who did have a strong day was Janet Gamble, who qualified for the national championship with a sixth place finish. According to Vigars, Gamble's success should come as no surprise.
"She's really a game athlete. The bigger the race, the better she runs," Vigars said.
Gamble added that going to the championships without her team will be an odd experience. "It's going to be a lot different because I'm used to having my teammates there with me. I guess I will have to set some personal goals and just try my best," she said.
On the men's side, Vigars said it was much the same story.
"Our guys had even less hope. We'd seen what Windsor could do in a meet in Chicago and we knew Guelph was still ahead of them. We knew we'd be in the middle of the pack," Vigars said.
Vigars noted a pair of graduate students on the men's side were "red shirted" this season, meaning they maintain their eligibility to run next year. The coach said they will be a real shot in the arm for the squad next fall.
Western runner Chris Smith said some of the team seemed to be just starting to hit their stride.
"I wish the season went on [longer] because I thought a lot of people had their best race this weekend," Smith said.
For the team to improve their collective mindset must be better, Smith added. "Most people need to improve mentally. There are no physical problems," he said.
Not being near the top of the heap is a new experience for Western's cross-country team. Vigars said he sees a return to the glory days on the horizon.
"I do see the team turning around on both accounts. The youngsters know now they're going to have to really step it up in the winter with their training and carry it through to August. The practice plans are already in place," Vigars said.