Volume 95, Issue 84

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
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Western women taste the ultimate CIS success

Breaking down the bracket

Mayhem and madness - it must be March

Western women taste the ultimate CIS success

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff

Matt Prince/Gazette
WAIT A MINUTE, WE ALREADY WON? WELL I'M NOT GOING TO RISK THROWING OUT MY BACK THEN. Actually the Western women's track and field team took their body and soul to new heights and it paid off with the CIS championship. Congratulations ladies.

No need to be philosophical about this one – sometimes, it's just your day.

For the Western Mustangs women's track and field team, the time to be philosophical was last year when a dropped baton essentially cost the Mustangs a national title.

The women can now stake their claim as the premier track and field squad in the country after capturing the Canadian Interuniversity Sports track and field title in Sherbrooke, Quebec this past weekend.

All the Western women peaked at just the right time last Friday and Saturday. Considering the trauma they endured last season, they deserved a little good fortune this year.

But don't think for a moment this national triumph had much to do with luck. These women willed their way to victory, led by the ferocious spirit of Kate Vermeulen who won two gold medals in the 600m and 1,000m runs and a silver medal in the 1,500m.

Western head coach Vickie Croley couldn't help but gush about Vermeulen's performance. "I have never personally seen such a tough and focused athlete at [the CIS Championships]," she said.

Exceptionally, Vermeulen's performance came while she was still suffering the lingering affects from a nagging injury. "People didn't even know she was injured, which just adds a little more," Croley added. Not surprisingly, Vermeulen was named Female Athlete of the Meet.

The other half of Western's vaunted 'Kate connection' came through in fine style as well.

Kate Forbes, who earlier won Female Field Athlete of the Year for the CIS, pocketed two gold medals setting a CIS record in the weight throw and also winning the shot put.

"Kate Forbes was awesome – unbelievable. I have so much confidence in [Forbes] as a competitor. She was ranked third [in the weight throw] coming in, but I felt strongly she was going to win and she did," Croley said.

Western edged the University of Toronto for the overall title. Varsity Blues head coach Carl Georgevski was quick to praise both Croley and the entire Mustang team.

"Give credit to [Croley] and her staff. Western competed the whole weekend and they never let down. They were more than consistent, they were brilliant," Georgevski said.

There could be some more heated battles on the horizon in the OUA, he added. "I think with ourselves, Western and Windsor it's going to be incredible over the next few years."

While it's often said you make your own breaks, Croley admitted luck was on the Mustangs' side. "You usually have some bad luck – you drop the baton, some one gets disqualified – that happens all the time but that didn't happen this year," she said.

In addition to the high profile performances of Forbes and Vermeulen, many other Western women stepped up their efforts to help bring home the national title. Every athlete who moved up from being ranked eighth or ninth to finish fourth or fifth had a huge hand in this victory.

As a result, Western led most of the way over the two day tournament. "We were leading at the end of the first day. Toronto has a strong team, so we were watching how they were doing," Croley said.

Team co-captain Abigail Tolloch agreed the team's start was vital. "We had a great start on the first day and we knew we were on the right path," she said.

"I'm glad it didn't come down to the [last event] because they might have been a little tight. I don't know what the outcome might have been, but I guess it doesn't matter," Croley said.

Tolloch said Western's composure went a long way in securing this title. "We were really composed this year, I think we had a more mature team and that was a big factor," she said.

Croley emphasized that, like all championship teams, this was a close knit group. "This team has an amazing camaraderie. They just really clicked, they get along really well and they wanted to do well not only for themselves but for each other," she said.

"Losing the championship last season in the final event is tough and they overcame that," Croley added. "This was a reward for the last two years."

Now they can simply sit back and enjoy it.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002