Future is bright after Don Wright

Very successful meet a reason for optimism

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Jumping into the sand

Jon Purdy

TAKING SANDBOX PLAY TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. Western’s track and field teams notched wins all over the board at the Don Wright Challenge this past weekend, a strong sign of what may come for the men’s and women’s squads.

The Mustangs track and field teams left their competitors in the dust last weekend at the 24th annual Don Wright Team Challenge.

Both the men’s and women’s athletes posted massive point totals to run away with the overall team titles and beat out Detroit-Mercy, Oakland University and the University of Waterloo.

Western’s women won 13 of 15 events and accumulated an eye-popping 152 points, dwarfing second-place Detroit-Mercy’s 56. The men captured nine of 15 events and tallied 144.5 points; Oakland placed second with 53.

The Mustangs excelled especially in sprints and hurdles, as well as weight throw, shot-put, high jump, long jump and triple jump.

Head coach Vickie Croley was impressed with her team’s consistency throughout the meet.

“We’re pretty solid across the board in all events,” Croley said.

Among the dominating athletes wearing purple and silver was 2006 Ontario University Athletics Rookie of the Year Jen Cotten, who won gold in three events.

“This is a big meet for Western,” Cotten said. “We definitely got momentum.”

Women’s team member and pentathlete Shellie McParland had a strong showing with a gold and a personal best in long jump and a third-place finish in hurdles.

“It’s still very early in the season,” McParland said. “[This meet] definitely gets things going. It’s a great start.”

Standouts from the men’s team included Abdull Zubair and Randy McAuley. With two gold medals each, they displayed the improving strength of a men’s team plagued by injuries.

“On the men’s side, we are dealing with some injuries,” Croley said. “We need some of our injured bodies to get healthy so they can compete for us at the level they’re capable of.”

“This is the first big meet for times and results,” Zubair said. “We started getting the big times and getting ready for [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] nationals.”

Despite his recent passing, former Mustangs track and field star and long-time program patron Don Wright remained a prevailing force this past weekend.

“We were really motivated because it’s one of our most important meets,” Zubair explained. “With [Don Wright] passing away this year, it was especially important to perform and give a good presence.”

Western showed motivation and teamwork. In a primarily individual sport, the ’Stangs emphasize team unity above all things on and off the track.

“We need to have a team focus in order to be supportive of others reaching their individual goals,” Croley said. “Our focus is to continue to train to work towards achieving personal bests at championship times.”

The future looks bright for both the men’s and women’s teams, which have the talent to contend for top spots in the country.

“We work hard,” McParland said. “We train hard and it pays off in the end.”

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