September 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 11  

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Cross country teams poised for run at titles
Women intact, mem fresh

By James Grant
Gazette Writer

Geoff Robbins
THOSE KIDS WERE MAKING FUN OF ME. Shayna Boland (above) and Chris D'Esterre look to help the cross country team make some "noise" this season.

The air is getting cooler on campus and that means the Western cross country team is now ready to run wild on Ontario University Athletics.

Although it has been a slow start to the new millennium, veteran coach Bob Vigars believes Western is poised to once again be the big kid on the block.

"This year we have a team, both women and men, that can really hope to make some noise and show the rest of the country we are back to the level we had shown throughout the nineties," Vigars said.
Beware opponents: those words come with some background experience as well. This season will mark the 36th anniversary of Vigars' transfer to Western from his beginning as a basketball assistant at Cal State-Los Angeles.

On the men's side of the coin, the year began with some uncertainty. Not only did the team lose All-Canadian Charley Murphy, they also saw three top recruits bail to other schools. That isn't even including the number two runner from 2002, Brandon Laan, who has been sidelined with a baffling leg ailment.

Yet the team is ranked ninth in the country, which is something Vigars thinks is a well deserved placement.

"We were dealt some tough blows before the season started, but I can not say enough about the guys we have now. They have really impressed me and I think if we follow our game plan we could be successful this season in the province," Vigars said.

Former Queen's captain Rob Berg has emerged as an unexpected leader while walk-on Nathan DeWitt impressed everyone with his eighth place showing at the 28th Annual Purple & White Intrasquad meet over the weekend.

This year's team will look to captain Blake Murphy for leadership and guidance, as well as to Charley Murphy who is now a coach on the team.

The 2003 version of the women's cross country team will be led by some familiar faces. Team captain Shannon Gerrie returns for her fourth season as a Mustang after 1st Team All-Canadian honours in 2002. Her supporting cast of Ashley Korman (2002 OUA Rookie of the Year) and Shayna Boland return as well to add some great veteran presence to the team.

In addition, the squad has added a wealth of talent with this year's batch of recruits.

Sasha Gollish comes to Western as a transfer from Toronto, where she was the 2000 OUA Rookie of the Year. True freshmen Jackie Bonisteel, Jennifer Hall and Andrea Brouwer mark the future of women's cross country for the Mustangs. Each of these runners was a top 10 finisher at OFSAA in their particular events.

"These ladies are ready to challenge for a national championship in my opinion," Vigars said. "In the pre-season polls we are ranked number three in the country but we will see if we can improve on that at McGill this weekend."

These runners will be carrying on a legacy unmatched in Canadian university cross country.

The Western women have qualified for nationals 21 out of the 23 years the competition has been held. They're ranked No. 1 with 16 overall team medals.

The Mustang men have qualified for 17 of the last 33 national championships and are ranked third in total medals with nine.

Both squads are also No. 1 all-time in OUA and will hope to expand on that title this season.

The 28th Annual Purple & White Intrasquad Results:

Women's 4 km.

Men's 6 km.

1st Shannon Gerrie 13:58
2nd Sasha Gollish 14:57
3rd Jackie Bonisteel 15:00
4th Ashley Korman 15:10
5th Karen Gilbert 15:11
6th Shayna Boland 15:22
7th Amanda Laslo 15:47
2nd Rob Berg 19:18
3rd Chris D'Esterre 19:4
4th Steve Weiler 19:51
5th Tim Hain 19:54
7th Chris Smith 20:07
8th Nathan de Witt 20:07
9th Elliot Craig 20:15




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