Friday, March 5, 2010

Track and field competition tightens as Gryphons struggle (by their standards) at OUA Championships

“The track and field league is very strong right now. It’s way better now, top to bottom, than it was ten, or even five years ago.” – Gryphons head coach Dave Scott-Thomas, following the team’s silver and bronze medal finishes at York.

Perhaps all that was needed was a little wakeup call for the Guelph Gryphons track and field teams.
The perennial favourites in the OUA, the Gryphons performed well, but not quite as well as they might have expected at the OUA Championships at York University last weekend, with the men finishing second and the women third.

“I feel ‘medium’ about how things went,” said head coach Dave Scott-Thomas of how he felt about the weekend’s performances. “We realistically finished a little bit below expectations.”

The Windsor Lancers won both the men’s and women’s team titles, cementing their program as the current favourite going into the CIS national championships next weekend.

As a team, the Gryphons won 19 medals. The Gryphon men tied for second place with Western, and the women trailed only the Mustangs and Lancers.

“The track and field league is very strong right now,” said Scott-Thomas. “It’s way better now, top to bottom, than it was 10, or even five years ago.”

Despite the team’s overall shortcomings, the Gryphons still had a number of outstanding performances, including a podium sweep of the men’s weight throw competition, led by All-Canadian Dustin McCrank, who was joined on the podium by Tim Hendry and rookie Brent Roubos.

Gryphons rookies also performed admirably at York, led by a startling gold medal performance by Jason Diston in the pentathalon.

“Jason is one of the top two or three athletes on campus,” said Scott-Thomas on Diston, who also plays for the Gryphons football team in the fall. “I think he’ll be a strong candidate for OUA Rookie of the Year in track and field.

“I’ve been coaching for a long time,” Scott-Thomas continued. “I can tell you that he has national team potential. He’s going to be a keystone of this program for years to come.”

Other Gryphon gold medalists included Sarah Peirce in the women’s 60m, Kyle Boorsma in the men’s 1500m and Rachel Cliff in the women’s 3000m.

Despite the Gryphons struggles at York, Scott-Thomas, the eternal optimist, is ready for a big showing in Windsor.

“We’ve got [another week] to reload and re-learn for [nationals],” he said. “We’ve got a better team than we showed last weekend, but I’m not down about it.”

While the exact number of Gryphons who will be competing in Windsor has not yet been finalized, Scott-Thomas speculated that there will likely be around 14 Gryphon women and 20 men participating.

The showcase track event of the finals is likely to be the men’s 3000m, which could feature as many as five Gryphons in the final eight, including the return of Matt Brunsting, the two-time men’s cross-country champion, who has been hampered by injuries during the track and field season but has still managed to qualify for the final races.

cross-posted at The Ontarion

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