February 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 72  

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SPORTS

Track and field team — radioactive

By Ian Van Den Hurk
Gazette Staff

Ian Howes /Gazette
HERE’S HOPING THAT CAN OF CHILI ISN’T A BANNED SUBSTANCE. The Western men’s relay team had an “explosive” run at Notre Dame, destroying the old Western record and all previous CIS records with a time of 3:13:23.

The Western Mustangs track team was forced to deal with adverse conditions before arriving in South Bend, Indiana this weekend to participate in a meet at the University of Notre Dame.

At the Canada-United States border, the team’s bus was stopped and x-rayed. Three members of the team were taken off the bus because of recent bone scans they had undergone, which can interfere with the process. Karen Gilbert, who had a bone scan the previous day, was forced to stand in the cold for 10 minutes while the customs officer scanned her.

Despite the inconveniences and a six hour trip, Friday evening’s events included a number of solid performances. Western competed against some of the best track schools in the U.S., including the Universities of Michigan, Michigan State, Arkansas, Alabama and Notre Dame.

Western runner and team captain Bob Westman was exciting to watch all weekend, standing out in the 300 metre with a blistering time of 33.79 seconds. The time shattered his former personal best, netted him first place and stands as the fastest in Canada this season.

Last season Westman finished second in Canada, though he’s careful not to over analyze. “I just want to run well,” Westman said. “If I win, I win. As long as I run well and we score well as a team, that’s all that matters.”

Westman’s mark was enough to easily qualify for the Canadian “standard” time of 34.7 seconds for the 300 metre. He automatically qualifies for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships and doesn’t have to worry about finishing in the top two at the Ontario University Athletic’s.

Head coach Vickie Croley had plenty of praise for Westman. “He just shows he was the class of the field here today — he’s got the ability to medal in two individual events and two relays.”

Christian Heffernan and rookie Randy McAuley also ran well in the 300, finishing fourth and ninth respectively. Heffernan also qualified for standard with a time of 34.4 seconds and will advance to the CI’s.

High jumper Felicia Smart also held her own. On Friday she bowed out at 1.68 metres. “[I wasn’t] really nervous... I’m trying to become more consistent,” Smart noted. “I think this has been our toughest competition — I’ve never competed where 15 girls are jumping 1.68,” she laughed.

Dave Picard/Gazette
AND THAT’S HOW YOU DO THE FLOSBURY FLOP. Felicia Smart demonstrates the art of the flop. The Western women are looking to improve their jumps for the upcoming OUA’s.

Western continued its success on Saturday with many Mustangs setting new personal bests. Chris D’Esterre, Blake Murphy, Brandon Lewis, Dave Keely, Scott Nelms and Tara Johnson all set new bests in the 800 metre, while Jackie Bonisteel and Shauna Gerrie also set bests in the 3,000.

Johnson has been particularly impressive over the past week. Last weekend she shaved 13 seconds off her best 3,000 metre time and on Saturday she dropped her time by another four seconds. “I don’t know what it is — I just feel good,” she said when asked about her rapid improvement. “I think it’s more confidence.”

Marni Lee is another OUA hopeful who ran a solid 500 metre race this weekend. Croley seemed satisfied with her results, noting Lee ran a quick time despite the fact the 500 isn’t her main event.
“It was the first time I’ve ran it” Lee says. “The 600 metre is my event, so I hope to finish top three (in the OUA’s) and move on to the CI’s.”

CIS hopeful Alanna Boudreau had a great weekend in the triple jump with a jump of 12.10 metres, a new personal best and a Western record. Boudreau has her sights set on the upcoming championships and has set a season goal for herself of jumping 12.50 metres. “Recently, I’ve been getting better, so the fact that I’m at 12.10 and there’s still a few weeks before CI’s is exciting,” she said.

The weekend’s biggest triumph was the men’s 4 x 400 relay team of Westman, Heffernan, McAuley and Gavin McTavish. Despite nagging injuries, the men scored a time of 3:13:23 minutes, a new Mustang record. The team easily eclipsed the Canadian standard time of 3:20:14 minutes and has already qualified for the CI’s. In fact, the time is faster than any other run at the CI’s and is an automatic qualification.

Relay coach Jim Parker was thrilled with his team’s results. “Randy McAuley has just started to come on the last few weeks, and he’s getting better and better all the time — and Gavin came through like gangbusters,” he said.

Aside from staying healthy, Parker believes the team’s success relies heavily on the ‘team first’ mentality they share. “They’re the best bunch of guys I’ve ever had. When the times get posted this weekend, I think it’s going to be a shock to a lot of people, especially to see that 3:13. I’m just ecstatic.”

 

 

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