December 3 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 53  

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Track team rounds into form during their season opener

By Donnovan Bennett
Gazette Writer

Matt Prince/Gazette
BEEP BEEP! Two members of the Western track and field team run Road Runner style in the 100 metre race. The Western women took eight first place finishes during the weekend.

This past Saturday, the 29th annual track and field season opener took place in Thompson Arena. This marks the start of the competitive season for the perennial powerhouse Western Mustangs.

Ontario University Athletics teams that were represented were Waterloo, Guelph and McMaster. A few local club athletes participated as well, but without interprovincial rival Windsor or any real out-of-conference competition, the meet was lacking lustre. To the Mustangs, the meet was used as a measuring stick, as many of the Western stars are just rounding into form.

Christian Heffernan, Preston Haynes and Randy McAuley spent the first term sprinting on the gridiron, so their season has just begun.

The Mustang women are the defending OUA champions and got off to a good start by claiming eight first place finishes. The team of young Mustangs were led by a core group of key veterans who will be looked to for leadership. Veteran sprinters Henria Stephens and Kristin Hodge showed they were in top form already in the 60 metre dash and 60 metre hurdles, respectively.

High results aside, Mustang coach Vickie Croley was happy to give her stamp of approval. “These girls are looking strong and better than they ever have at this time of year.”

Simultaneously, female jumper Kellie Goheen did her best Kris Kross impression as she won the long jump with a 5.47 metre jump. The fifth-year nutrition student also had enough energy to help the women claim the 4 x 200 metre relay.

Felicia Smart, who credits her jumping ability to listening to House of Pain as a youngster, blew all the competition away in the high jump with a jump of 1.63 metres.

Despite the large success of the women, the talk of the meet was the strength Western boasted in the men’s sprints and middle distance categories. Last year’s men’s team was one of the top teams in the country. With respect to this year’s OUA competition, Chucky the doll would say, “they’re back!”

Matt Prince/Gazette
RUN FOREST, RUN. The Western men’s track and field team claimed the top five spots in the men’s 600 metre race at the 29th annual season opener.

The top five men finishers in the 600 metre were all Western men. The winner was Bob Westman, who is new to running this race. After being down early, he proved to be as cool as the underside of a pillow, taking over the race with ease in the late stretches.
Speaking on the new experience of running the 600, Westman said, “I pretty much ran scared. I realized this race hurts.”

Before the day was over, Preston Haynes’ presence was felt as well. Also new to the 600, Haynes placed third, not to mention his anchoring of the 4 x 200 metre men’s relay team, which made short work of the competition.

“I felt I did OK, but as a competive person, I’m always looking to get better and constantly improve,” Haynes said, adding he also posted All-Canadian times in the 4 x 200.

All-Canadian Christian Heffernan was another cog in the star-studded 4 x 200 team. He elected to only run the relay as he was still easing in to top shape. On his personal performance, Heffernan said, “I’m happy with how I performed since I had my spikes on for the first time four days ago, but I need to build from this and be consistent.” This sprinter should be a threat once again come this year’s OUA’s and nationals.

“It is a good indication of where we are at and how much we need to improve to challenge in the OUA,” Croley said, speaking about the meet.

The only difficulty for Croley will be to find a way to spread the talent across the board from 60 to 600 metres to get as much out of their athletic prowess as possible in order to rack up the points come OUA finals.

Regardless, the Western Mustangs’ track teams’ level of excellence and domination of all competition stays the same as they “get medals or die tryin’.”



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