Success in Montreal: CIS track and field

Universal team effort brings Western's medal count to nine

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western’s Heather Pattison, Calgary’s Jessica Zelinka (a former Mustang) and Guelph’s Steph Jackson

Josh Brown/CUP

ON THE NATIONAL STAGE. (From left) Western's Heather Pattison, Calgary's Jessica Zelinka (a former Mustang) and Guelph's Steph Jackson were just a few of the outstanding competitors at the CIS track and field championships.

MONTREAL " A mix of veterans and newcomers led Western’s track and field team to a third-place finish in the overall men’s standings and a fourth in the women’s at last weekend’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships at McGill’s Tomlinson fieldhouse in Montreal.

Rookie sprinter Miguel Wason racked up three medals " a silver individually in the men’s 300-metre, another silver with his 4x200-metre relay team and a third as part of the 4x400-metre mates, which won Western’s lone gold medal of the meet.

Senior Randy McAuley finished up his university track career by adding two more medals to his collection, running lead for both relay squads.

“It was pretty nerve-racking since it’s the last event on the track and everyone’s watching your race,” McAuley said, adding that Western’s tradition of dominance in the race can cause even more jitters.

“This is my third 4x4 medal and I’ll tell you, it gets sweeter every time.”

McAuley, also a star running back for the ’Stangs, had to pass up an invite to attend the CFL evaluation camp for top prospects in order to compete in Montreal, as both fell on the same weekend. He said it was tough to give up the chance to meet with pro teams, but that it wasn’t actually difficult for him to decide which event to go to.

“I told them I’m a captain on the track team and my priorities were to be here at the championships,” McAuley said.

While he’s still in love with football and will jump at the chance to continue his career, McAuley also isn’t ready to call it quits on the track. He’s thinking of competing during the summer season, lamenting that he’s only able to put three months of the year towards sprinting.

“If I had the time to dedicate four, five or six months to track, I think I’d excel even more,” he said.

Another graduating Mustang, triple-jump specialist Alanna Boudreau, capped her university career with her fifth medal in five tries at the CIS championships. Boudreau, the defending champion, had been on the outside looking in for a medal until she posted a 12.14-metre leap on her final attempt.

“Fifth year, last jump " it was pretty important,” she said with a laugh.

“That I managed to at least get a season best and come second " there’s probably a tiny bit of disappointment somewhere in my head, but I’m not thinking about that at all " I’m just really pleased that I managed to pull off what I did.”

Boudreau also hopes to place well at the Canadian senior championships.

“Right now is sort of a big turning point for me to decide how far I want to take this, so I don’t want to throw out any goals beyond this summer,” she said.

At the start of the season, Boudreau had been considering saving her final year of eligibility for the 2008 campaign to give the women’s team a better shot at an overall title. But in the end, she decided she could be just as helpful in bringing the rookies along this year.

The same situation played out on the men’s side, as Wason followed McAuley’s lead in the 300-metre final.

“My partner was in the sixth lane, so I decided to chase Randy and I guess it worked,” said Wason, who took second in the race while his mentor was fifth.

First-year Mustang Nathan Rothwell played the hero’s role for the 4x200 team, coming back from fourth place into second after some bumping at the baton exchange forced him to fight from behind.

“Every 4x2 we’ve run this year, we’ve been in first, so there hasn’t been a congested hand-off,” Rothwell said, explaining that they weren’t used to the jostling for position.

Abdull Zubair competed for both the 4x200 and 4x400 teams, while Tarek El Morsey rounded out the 4x4 squad. Two Mustangs were slightly disappointed with their performances despite winning bronze medals " Scott Emberley in the 1,000-metre because he lost a 10-metre lead in the final lap, and Jen Cotten in the pentathlon because a poor shot-put crippled her chances for a better result.

Another pair of multi-medallist Mustangs rounded out the podium finishes for Western at nationals. Heather Patterson set a personal best in the shot-put with a distance of 14.10 metres, finishing in second place.

Andrew Judge won bronze in both the 60-metres hurdles and the long jump to bring Western’s total medal count to nine.

"with files from Sebastien Cadieux, The Link

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