Track Dinos movin’ on up

By Kevin Rothbauer

In 20 years, the University of Calgary men’s track and field team had never broken into the top three at the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships. After a first-place finish at the Canada West Universities Athletic Association championship, the Dinosaurs were hoping to claim a spot on the podium last weekend at McGill University.

The Dinos had given up on first or second place. The size of the contingents sent by the Universities of Windsor and Sherbrooke made it all but impossible for any other team, no matter how talent-laden, to collect the points necessary to finish in the top two.

Third-place, then, seemed like a certainty for the U of C. Reality, though, can sometimes be different from certainty.

Just as the oracle foretold, Sherbrooke and Windsor dominated the meet. The former collected 68 points and the latter 50. The University of York Yeomen slipped into third place with 32 points, only 2.5 more than the Dinos, who claimed fourth.

"It was the best finish for the men’s team in 20 years," said Dinos Head Coach Les Gramantik. "So it would be foolish of me to say I wasn’t pleased. We were good enough for third place, so I could be happier."

Points are awarded to teams for every athlete who finishes in the top six in an event. Thirty teams sent male athletes to Montréal and 23 scored at least one point. Fourth place, then, is nothing to laugh about.

"There were 450 athletes participating over two days, so there was a huge spread of points," explained Gramantik. "It’s not always easy to finish in the top six and claim points."

Jeremy Deere led the team with a pair of individual wins. As expected, the fourth-year phenomenon sped to victory in the 1500m and 3000m, setting a McGill fieldhouse record of 8:14.68 in the latter.

"Jeremy’s graduating this year," lamented Gramantik. "Sometime, I’m going to add up all the awards he has won at CIAUS and Canada West in his four years. It’s probably some kind of world record.

"Jeremy will be our biggest loss next year. Of the athletes leaving, he’ll be the only hard one to replace."

Dave Gosnell won a silver medal in the weight throw, tossing the iron 14.64 m, well back of Murray Heber’s 19.58 m for the University of Alberta. Unfortunately, Gosnell’s effort didn’t help the team–the weight throw was an exhibition event this year. Next year, the weight throw will be a regulation event.

The women’s team, which consisted of Jody Friesen, Michelle Romance and Jill Salus, finished in 17th, well below the top 10 spot they had hoped for. All three competed in the pentathlon. Romance finished third, Salus, the Canada West champion, finished ninth, and Friesen was unable to complete the competition due to injury.

"[Romance] was ranked number nine going into the meet," pointed out Gramantik. "She beat a lot of people she wasn’t expected to beat."

The Dinos now have to prepare for next year. "Rebuild" will not be a buzzword in the U of C camp, since most of this year’s team is sticking around. Gramantik will add to what is already one of the fastest-rising programs in the country.

"We have some good high school prospects who have said that they’ll be on the team next year," he pointed out. "The [men’s] team looks strong for years to come."

The women’s team is a good bet to improve next year as well. Gramantik praised the effort the team put in over the 1998/99 season. They might even challenge for a conference title. Don’t look for a national championship too soon, though, from the Dinos or any Canada West team.

"Beyond Canada West, so many other things come in," said Gramantik. "The eastern schools do a lot more. They compete in more meets with each other and American teams. It’s impossible right now for a western team to win."

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