Volume 96, Issue 85
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

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Range is 'Stangs' strength

Western women tough all over

By Ryan Hickman
Gazette Staff

Lennie Kwan/Gazette
THE LONG WAY HOME. Long distance runner Shannon Gerrie driving into Nationals.

With varsity sports all but dead on our campus, the Western track and field team is looking to breathe some life into the dilapidated Mustang with the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Championships this weekend at the St. Denis Centre at the University of Windsor.

The Western women's track and field team travels south on Highway 401 this weekend with a big target on their back. Although they are ranked fourth in the country going into the biggest meet of the year, they are the defending CIS champions and pulled out a stunner two weeks ago by taking the Ontario University Athletics team championship.

"We really were a bit of a surprise at the OUAs," said Western head coach Catherine Bond-Mills. "Everybody stepped up and had some of the best performances of the season and even their careers."

Track and field is a long and grueling season and saving enough in the tank for the end of the year is important. The Western women seem to be doing just that. Bond-Mills pinpointed the peaking performances of Jen Moskal and Ashley McNeill going into the weekend.

"She is looking good right now at exactly the right time," Bond-Mills said about her captain, McNeill, who qualified for five events this weekend, but will have to forego the 60 metres because of scheduling for other events.

McNeill is ranked in the top 10 in Canada in the 300m and has one of a handful of the best times in the country for the 60m hurdles. She also anchors the OUA - winning 4 x 200m and 4 x 400m relay teams, both of which are slotted in as the third best in the nation.

McNeill is one of many seniors on the women's team who will be competing in their final university meet this weekend.

"The CIS championship will be a sad day, no matter what the outcome," said McNeill regarding the emotion that will be evident in Windsor.

Other graduating athletes competing this weekend are Jenn Bain, who is the lead on the 4 x 200m and 4 x 400m relay teams that include Kristin Hodge and Marnie Lee. Lindsay Whitehead, who is ranked in the top 10 in high jump, and Moskal, who displayed her ranging dominance with four silver medals at the OUA championships, are also going into their final meets.

Other strong performances this weekend will be expected out of Shannon Gerrie in the 3000m, where she is one of the top distance runners in Canada, and Tanya Krynen, who won the OUA pole vault title and goes into the weekend ranked second in the CIS.

On the field for the Mustangs women, Kelly Goheen looks to tally points in the long jump and youngster Alanna Boudreau needs to hop, skip and jump in the triple.

The wide range of athletes from top to bottom in all events is what makes the Western women so dangerous in the team competition.

"We have good coverage across all events," Bond-Mills commented about the dynamics of her squad. "We have the potential to score points and knock off other teams."

"Our team has so much depth and we have a competitor in every event that we could be a surprise," Bain explained. "The team feels that anything can happen. [Nationals] is not out of our reach."

The stiffest competition for Western will come from out west, specifically the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Calgary. The Mustangs will have to maximize their entire team's abilities to put some purple on the podium.

– with files from Mike Burton

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