The Mustangs track and field squads kept pace with the competition this weekend as the women finished third and the men came fourth at the Ontario University Athletics Championship meet at York University.
The women earned a total of seven individual medals as well as a gold in the 4x400 relay.
“I basically just wanted to focus on each race and put 100 per cent of my effort in and hope the right results would come out of it,” relay team member Jen Ricks said.
Clocking in at 3:54:13, the team of Ricks, Jen Cotten, Lisa Grieve and Melanie Lui edged out second place Ottawa and bronze medalists, Windsor.
Cotten dominated the long jump and the 60m hurdles, earning gold and bronze respectively, while Mila Simulik (silver) and Alicia Smith (bronze) showed well in triple jump. In weight throw Sarah Manson (silver) and Cara Marcantonio (bronze) had strong performances as well.
On the men’s side, high jumper Alex Witmer earned the silver with a jump of 2.03m, punching his ticket to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships March 12 to 14 in Windsor.
“My goal for this weekend’s competition was to set a good pace for nationals,” Witmer said. “I’ve had a knee injury all season and so have focused most of my attention on [nationals], rather than on all of the preliminary meets.”
In other men’s action, Scott Leitch ran a solid time of 1:20:35 in the 600m final, earning him the bronze medal, as well as a spot on Western’s all time top-10 finishes in the event.
Following some earlier praise from head coach Vickey Crowley, Ricks discussed the impact confidence can have on an athlete’s performance.
“It is very reassuring to know that your coach has faith in you personally and the team as a whole,” she said.
“Our coaches have designed our training so that we are in peak shape at this time of the year, so we know we have the physical capabilities, we just need to have the confidence that we can use that strength when it counts.”
Distance runner Kyle O’Neill is also headed to nationals after running a personal best 8:19:44 in the 3000m.
“OUAs are a good tune-up before [nationals],” he said. “It is an indicator of where the team stands versus the best competition in Ontario.”
In preparing for the coming weeks, Witmer discussed the importance of an event like OUAs in helping with the mental aspect of competition.
“Doing it in practice and doing it in the spotlight are entirely different,” he said. “Pulling through when it counts means performance and having a coach who understands this heading into [nationals], helps a lot in terms of our team’s mental preparation.”