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sports ■ 24 


gateway ■ WWW.IHEGATEWAY0NUNE.CA ■ January 30,2013 

Spurts I dilor 
Andrew Jeffrey 


Sports meetings Thursdays at 4 p.m. in 3-04 SUB. C’mon by! 

U of A Athletics 

Upcoming Schedule 

All times in Mountain Standard Time 
All games viewable on 

Golden Bears Hockey 

Friday, Feb. 1 
vs. Regina 
7 p.m. 

Saturday, Feb. 2 
vs. Regina 
6 p.m." 

Pandas Hockey 

Friday, Feb. 1 
@ Regina 
7 p.m. 

Saturday, Feb. 2 
@ Regina 
7 p.m. 

Golden Bears Volleyball 

Friday, Feb. 1 
§ Manitoba 
8 p.m. 

Saturday, Feb. 2 
@ Manitoba 
8 p.m. 

Pandas Volleyball 

Saturday, Feb. 2 
@ Manitoba 
6 p.m. 

Golden Bears Basketball 

Friday, Feb. 1 
vs. Manitoba 
8 p.m. 

Saturday, Feb. 2 
vs. Manitoba 

8 p.m. 

Pandas Basketball 

Friday. Feb. 1 
vs. Manitoba 
6 p.m. 

Saturday, Feb. 2 
vs. Manitoba 
6 p.m. 

Golden Bears and Pandas 

Wesmen Invitational 
Friday,Feb. 1 at 12 p.m. 
@ University of Winnipeg 

Golden Bears and Pandas 

University of Victoria Invitational 
Friday,Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. 

@ Cedar Hill Recreation Centre, Victoria 

New coach brings new talent to track team 



Brendan Curley 


The 2013 season represents a pe¬ 
riod of change for track and field at 
the University of Alberta. 

Led by freshman coach Wes Mo- 
erman and a handful of new as¬ 
sistant coaches, the team is in the 
midst of a transitional year that has 
seen an abundance of talent come 
and go. Moerman replaced last 
year's head coach Georgette Reed 
over the summer as part of U of A 
Athletics' new Alberta Model. 

"Our focus for Canada West this 
year is just to do a small amount of 
events and do them really well. That's 
going to set us up for the sustained 
success we are looking for with both 
the athletes and the coaching staff." 
Moerman explained. 

"1 don't really know where we are 
going to stack up in the conference, 
and I don't really pay attention to 
that. Our focus is just to be excel¬ 
lent in the day-to-day things and let 
the big show take care of itself." 

While expectations may be rea¬ 
sonably modest for the Pandas 
and Bears teams, the U of A host¬ 
ing nationals this season and the 
next could provide a motivational 

As the host school, the U of A 
has been working towards improv¬ 
ing and building upon last year's 
CIS championship results, where 
the Pandas placed seventh and 
the Bears placed 13th. This year's 
track and field season began a few 
weeks ago with the Golden Bear 
Open at the U of A, and Moerman 
expressed confidence in his team's 
ability to compete in spr intin g and 
field events. 

“Our sprinting group is strong. 
We have two excellent runners in 


first-year Katrina Martin and sec¬ 
ond-year Leah Walkadean; both are 
within the top eight in the country 
right now." Moerman said. 

“In the men's 60-metre we have 
Ben Williams, who is top six in 
the country. Our sprinting group 
this year is young — most are first 
and second-year athletes — so the 
future is promising in some of the 
ptemiere events." 

Leading the way in the field events 
is defending CanWest male field 
athlete of the year Stephen McPhee. 
McPhee won gold in the long jump 
last season at the CanWest cham¬ 
pionships and at nationals, and is 
poised to defend his title this year 

at home. He headlines an impres¬ 
sive core of field athletes that also 
includes sophomore Isaac Tyler in 
the high jump. 

"Our field group is also a 
strength," Moerman said. “We've 
made a number of technical im¬ 
provements in the field events and 
I hope for self-sustained success." 

But without a doubt, the team's 
most glaring weakness is a shallow 
distance core, which took a big hit 
in the wake of the recent personnel 

Prior to the start of the cross¬ 
country season last fall, a number 
of the U of A's top distance athletes 
decided to part ways with the var¬ 
sity team in order to continue to run 
with former Bears and Pandas dis¬ 
tance coach Glen Playfair, who was 
let go during the massive coaching 
changes in the offseason. 

Moerman didn’t allow for his ath¬ 
letes to train and run with Playfair, 
which wasn't the case when Reed 
was coaching the team. 

“1 had been running with (Playfair) 
for six years. When it became clear I 
couldn't run with my old coach and 
still be a part of the Bears. 1 made the 
decision to leave the team," former 
Bears track captain Graeme Law ex- 

Law was entering his final year 
of eligibility, after being the Bears' 
top runner in the Men's 1,500 and 
3,000-metre events at the Canada 
West Championships last season. 

law was not alone in his decision 
to leave the university team in order 
to run with Playfair, who is the head 
coach of the Edmonton Thunder 
track and field club. Other Bears who 
left the team for the same reason in¬ 
cluded David Falk, Curtis Aucoin and 
former captain Donovan Hacking. 

“There were four of us that decid¬ 
ed to leave. Distance wasn't a huge 
aspect of the team to begin with, 
but all of the faster people left," 
Law explained. 

Five members of the Pandas made 
the same decision to leave the team, 
four of whom continue to train with 
Playfair as members of Edmonton 

Thunder. Former U of A athletes 
Hayley Degaust, Alana Soderbetg, 
Nicole Soderberg and Sarah McMas- 
ter all left the team after being the 
top female distance runners for the 
Pandas in recent years. 

“It was a shock to hear that (Play¬ 
fair) wasn't going to return as the 
U of A distance coach this year. As 
soon as I heard the news, I knew that 
I would no longer train as a Panda. 
(Playfair) was a great coach — it just 
wouldn’t be the same," former Pan¬ 
das distance runner Amy McLean 

“Honestly, all the core (distance) 
runners still continue to train with 
him " 

In an interesting turn of events, 
many of these athletes competed 
against their former teammates 
in die recent Golden Bear Open 
Donovan Hacking placed third in 
the men's 800-metre run. while Ni¬ 
cole Soderberg placed second in the 
1,000-metre run and third in the 
1,500-metre race. 

Despite losing almost all of the 
top-end talent for long distance 
track events this season, the Bears' 
roster still features a number of up- 
and-coming distance runners who 
will try to fill the gap left by the loss 
of nine prominent athletes. 

The U of A has two more events 
before the CanWest Champion¬ 
ships for these runners to continue 
to mature. This weekend, they'll 
travel to Winnipeg, while their top 
athletes will also head to Seattle to 
compete in the University of Wash¬ 
ington Husky classic against NCAA 

Moerman admitted the team 
lacked depth in the distance events, 
but expressed confidence that the 
program was progressing towards 
a successful rebuild. 

“Our distance runners have all 
made progress. From a straight per¬ 
formance level, the distance events 
are really tough in CIS.” Moerman 
said. "We are not really looking to 
have a huge impact in file CIS in 
distance just yet — we are building 
towards that."