The Grad Club: Western
|THE GRAD CLUB. The Western Mustangs' cross-country
team is fueled by, from left to right: Chris Smith, Robyn Hurley,
Charley Murphy, Amanda Laslo, Ian Watts, Jill Gamble, and Blake Murphyl
"The Group of Seven" isn't just a group of extraordinary artists,
it's also a group of extraordinary cross-country runners.
Seven members of the Western Mustangs cross-country team are currently
graduate students, quite possibly garnering the squad the highest team
IQ on campus.
"Their experience is worth so much to the program," said head
coach Bob Vigars. "They're calmer and maintain a better picture of
life they don't get caught up in the meaninglessness. They have
been an extremely positive influence on our younger runners."
The group Vigars is referring to consists of four men and three women.
On the men's side is captain Charley Murphy (geophysics masters of science),
Blake Murphy (biomedical physics masters of Science), Chris Smith (applied
math masters of science) and Ian Watts (kinesiology masters).
The women braniacs are Amanda Laslo (biomedical physics masters of science),
Robyn Hurley (law) and captain Jill Gamble (law).
Vigars said one of his colleagues has a theory that cross-country runners
seem to be the brightest of varsity athletes on campus, but was hesitant
to completely agree. He did, however, admit that a majority of his athletes
have tended to fair well in the academic realm.
"We've been lucky to have very bright athletes in the program,"
Vigars said. "They all seem to be in challenging academic programs,
but you probably won't find too many students on this campus that aren't
Gamble's life journey has taken many roads. With her 27th birthday less
than a week away, yet only in her third year of eligibility, she could
be considered the "mom" of the squad.
She ran for a year at the University of New Mexico, a year at St. John's
University and has run three years at Western. In between her stints in
New Mexico and St. John's, she spent two years at York University and,
in between St. John's and Western, she spent one year at Wilfred Laurier
"I wasn't running consistently in the States because of health reasons
[Gamble has chronic asthma problems]," Gamble explained. "And
when you don't run consistently, the coaches in the States don't tend
to look highly on it."
Surprisingly, Gamble stated that cross-country actually assists her in
the world of academia. "It's actually a positive influence on school.
I tend to do more work when I'm running it's better to have both,"
Charley Murphy agreed with Gamble wholeheartedly. "The hours work
for cross-country I am able to do more work on my own time. Cross
country is great because you can follow a routine," he said.
Murphy, like Gamble, hasn't followed the normal five-year eligibility
plan. He hasn't run since 1998, when he was a Second Team All-Canadian.
The layoff hasn't seemed to hinder his results, as he has finished first,
fourth and 13th in meets this season.
If you aren't a cross-country runner, you can never really understand
why sane people would run endlessly, murder their bodies and then wake-up
the next day and do it all over again.
Hurley, a London Central Secondary School product who hasn't run since
1999, explained the draw of the grueling sport.
"I have always enjoyed distance running you share a bond of
enduring pain," Hurley said.
Murphy added, "You're at peace with yourself after running,"
and Gamble stated, "It's all about what you can do on any given day."
"The Group of Seven" has three meets left this season, including
the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships at Thames Valley Golf
Course in London.
For all these student athletes have achieved at Western, it's what they
do after they exit the gates of Western that will be their greatest accomplishment.
Therefore, when you pass a runner on the road, envision what they're thinking
about it might possibly be applied math or biomedical physics.
Damn, I can't even say biomedical physics.