Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the week.
Thunderbirds earn second-straight national sweep, fourth in last seven years, 14th
The UBC Thunderbirds have long been one of the powerhouses of Canadian university swimming, and they’re on a particularly strong streak recently on both the men’s and women’s sides. At the U SPORTS championships this week, hosted by the University of Toronto, the Thunderbirds won both the men’s and women’s titles for the second-straight season, which marked their fourth such sweep in the last seven years and their 14th overall.
On the men’s side, UBC finished with 1151.5 points, beating the Calgary Dinos (939.5) and the host Varsity Blues (887). The Thunderbirds only led Calgary by 115.5 points after the second day, but extended that lead significantly on the final day of competition. They were led by 2016 Olympian Yuri Kisil, who received his second-straight selection as U SPORTS male swimmer of the year and claimed the men’s Sprinters Cup by winning both the 50m and 100m freestyle races for the second-straight year (and the third time in his career). Kisil broke the nine-year-old 50m freestyle record in the preliminaries with a time of 21.69 seconds and then bettered the new record in the final with a time of 21.50 seconds. He also shone in the 4X100 and 4X200m freestyle relays, with UBC claiming gold in both.
Other UBC gold medalists on the men’s side included fellow 2016 Olympian Markus Thormeyer (200m backstroke, where he broke his own U SPORTS record with a time of one minutes, 52.90 seconds, and also 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and the 4X200m and 4X100m freestyle relays), Josiah Binnema (100m butterfly and both freestyle relays), Luke Peddie (50m butterfly, where he beat McGill star Samuel Wang by just .07 seconds, plus the 100m freestyle relay), Warren Mayer (50m freestyle), and Jonathan Brown (200m freestyle relay.)
On the women’s side, UBC was led by 2016 Olympian Emily Overholt, who was named the female U SPORTS rookie of the year. Overholt won the 400m individual medley, helped the 4X200m freestyle relay team win gold, earned silver in the 400m freestyle, and claimed bronze in the 200m individual medley. That last event was won by Overholt’s Thunderbirds’ teammate Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, who claimed that title for the fifth time, giving her the career Super Grand Slam.
Seltenreich-Hodgson also picked up silver in the 200m breaststroke, silver in the 400m individual medley and bronze in the 200m freestyle. She was also part of that golden 4X200m freestyle relay team.
There were plenty of strong performances from other swimmers as well. One came from Kylie Masse of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, who won bronze in the 100m backstroke at the 2016 Rio Olympics and is also the 2017 world champion and current world record holder in that event. Masse was named the U SPORTS female swimmer of the year for the second straight season. She won the women’s 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke events for the third straight season and set U SPORTS records in all three.
Masse also won the 100m butterfly for the first time (and set a U SPORTS record along the way), was part of the team that set a Canadian club record in the 4X100m medley relay, and helped the 4X100m freestyle relay team to silver. After the championships, Masse said the talent on display was historic:
“It was incredible,” said Masse when asked about the caliber of this year’s U SPORTS Championships. “I don’t know if this has ever happened before in Canadian university history."
“To have this many Olympic athletes competing at one championship is really unique. I think it shows a lot to young athletes that Canadian university swimming is an incredible opportunity and that you can succeed here.”
Another notable showing came from Montreal’s Sandrine Mainville, who won her fourth career Sprinter’s Cup by claiming gold in the women’s 50m and 100m freestyle, setting U SPORTS records in both races. Mainville also helped the Carabins’ 4X100 freestyle relay team set a Canadian club record and helped the 4X100 medley relay team take silver.
Beyond that, Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog swept the women’s 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke races and finished second in the 200m individual medley. Calgary’s Danica Ludlow earned gold in the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle races on the women’s side, while her Dinos’ teammates Peter Brothers and Robert Hill shone on the men’s side, winning the 400m and 1500m freestyle races and the 50m backstroke and 200m individual medley respectively.Toronto’s Eli Wall won his third career 200m breaststroke title as well as the 100m breaststroke and finished second in the 50m breaststroke.
National awards were also handed out to Calgary’s Frederik Kamminga (the men’s rookie of the year, who took silver in the 200m breaststroke), Toronto’s Josh Gold and Mount Allison’s Olivia Feschuk (the U SPORTS Student-Athlete Community Service Award), UBC head coach Steve Price (women’s coach of the year, shared men’s coach of the year) and McGill head coach Peter Carpenter (shared men’s coach of the year).
Badgers win fifth consecutive national titles
The Brock Badgers continued their wrestling dominance at the U SPORTS national championships this week, hosted by Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Both the Badgers’ men and women won national titles for the fifth-straight year. This marked Brock’s 18th and eighth overall national titles on the men’s and women’s sides respectively, and came two weeks after those teams won their third- and fourth-straight provincial titles respectively.
The Badgers won 10 gold medals and 18 total medals, finishing with 90 points on the men’s side (the Concordia Stingers were second with 62) and 72 on the women’s side (the Alberta Pandas were second with 36). On the men’s side, Brock’s golds came from Sam Jagas (57kg) and Tyler Rowe (76kg), who both ended their U SPORTS careers with their second individual golds, as well as Ligrit Sadiku (61kg), Cruiz Manning (72kg) and Clayton Pye (90kg). On the women’s side, Jessica Brouillette finished her U SPORTS career with her fourth national title at 63kg, while Kristina Mclaren (51kg) and Emily Schaefer (55kg) both recorded their third U SPORTS gold. Hannah Taylor (59kg) and Skylar Grote (72kg) also collected their first national titles for Brock.
For the Concordia men, Vincent DeMarinis (65kg), Francis Carter (68kg), and Jordie Steen (100kg) won gold. Other men’s golds came from the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades (Parker McBride at 54kg, Brad Hildenbrandt at 120kg) and the Alberta Golden Bears (Nicholas Goleniec at 82kg). Carter was named wrestler of the year, with McBride picked as rookie of the year, Alberta’s Owen Dawkins named coach of the year and Saskatchewan’s Josh Bodnarchuk given the Student-Athlete Community Service Award. And Bryce Davis of the host Algoma Thunderbirds, winner of the R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award, also earned bronze at 68kg, the Thunderbirds’ second national medal since joining U SPORTS in 2013 and their first from a male athlete.
On the women’s side, a silver medal from Brandy Perry (72kg) and bronze medals from Caileen Corbett (48kg) and Haley Heffel (63kg) helped Alberta to second. Other golds came from Saskatchewan’s Alex Schell (48kg) and Calgary’s Temitope Ogunjimi (67kg) and Erin Geddie (82kg). Ogunjimi was named wrestler of the year and earned the Student-Athlete Community Service Award, while Geddie was picked as rookie of the year, Regina’s Inga Hammer won the R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award, and Brock’s Marty Calder was named coach of the year.
Women’s No. 1 Bisons beat No. 2 Pandas in second-longest Canada West game ever, while Huskies knock off No. 5 Thunderbirds and men’s Badgers and Stingers upset No. 6 Gryphons and No. 9 Gaels
The U SPORTS women’s hockey playoffs saw a clash of the titans in the Canada West semifinals this week, with the No. 1 Manitoba Bisons facing the No. 2 Alberta Pandas in Winnipeg in a best-of-three series. On Friday night, Alberta won 4-1 thanks to a goal from Taylor Kezama and one from Amy Boucher, plus empty-netters from Regan Wright and Boucher. On Saturday, Manitoba earned a 2-1 overtime win thanks to goals from Sheridan Oswald and Alexandra Anderson. And on Sunday, the teams were deadlocked at 0-0 through regulation and three overtimes, with the game only ending when Jordyn Zacharias scored for the Bisons at 13:30 of the fourth overtime. That goal came after a total of 113:30 of game time, making this the second-longest game in Canada West history.
Elsewhere in women’s hockey, the No. 5 UBC Thunderbirds were eliminated by the Saskatchewan Huskies in the other Canada West semifinal, held in Saskatoon. Saskatchewan won the first game 2-0 Friday thanks to goals from Brooklyn Haubrich and Kira Bannatyne, and then won 2-1 Saturday on the strength of goals from Kaitlin Willoughby and Chloe Smith.
The women’s national championships will be hosted by Western University in London, Ontario from March 15-18. Seven teams have already qualified: the No. 10 Mustangs as hosts, the Huskies and Bisons as Canada West finalists, the No. 6 Montreal Carabins and No. 9 Concordia Stingers as RSEQ finalists, and the No. 3 Saint Mary’s Huskies and No. 4 St. FX X-Women as AUS finalists. Three teams remain in contention for the final OUA spot; the No. 7 Guelph Gryphons, the No. 8 Queen’s Gaels, and the Nipissing Lakers.
The biggest upsets in the men’s hockey playoffs have come in Ontario University Athletics, where both the No. 6 Guelph Gryphons and No. 9 Queen’s Gaels were eliminated by unranked teams. For Guelph, that was the Brock Badgers, who beat the Gryphons 4-3 in overtime on the road Thursday and 5-4 in overtime at home Sunday to clinch their best-of-three OUA West semifinal series. Goalie Clint Windsor led th way for the Badgers, stopping 39 shots Thursday and 46 Sunday and becoming the first Brock goaltender to record 1000 saves in a single season. Cosimo Fontana had two goals and an assist for Brock Thursday, with Ayden MacDonald scoring the overtime winner and adding an earlier assist, while Matt MacLeod led the way Sunday with two goals and Mitch Nardi scored the overtime winner.
In the OUA East, the No. 9 Queen’s Gaels ran into the Concordia Stingers, who won 4-2 on the road in Kingston Wednesday night to start the series. Queen’s bounced back with a 3-0 win in Montreal Friday thanks to a great performance from goalie Kevin Ballie, who helped the Gaels triumph despite being outshot 45-23, but Concordia then picked up a 3-2 overtime win on the road in the deciding game Sunday, with Philippe Sanche scoring the game-winning power-play goal on an odd-man rush 51 seconds into overtime.
The men’s national championships, the 2018 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup, will take place at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton from March 15-18. Three teams have already qualified, the No. 1 Varsity Reds as host and the No. 2 Alberta Golden Bears and No. 5 Saskatchewan Huskies as Canada West finalists (those teams can still battle for seeding in the conference final). Five spots remain, with seven teams in contention; the Stingers and McGill Redmen in the OUA East plus the Badgers and the York Lions in the OUA West competing for the three OUA spots, and the No. 3 St. FX X-Men, No. 7 Acadia Axemen and No. 8 Saint Mary Huskies’s competing for the two non-UNB AUS spots.
Track and Field
Tigers’ women win 29th straight title
The track and field conference championships took place this week, and the Dalhousie Tigers thoroughly impressed at the AUS championships. The Tigers’ women’s team won their 29th straight title, while the Dalhousie men won their 16th provincial championship in the past 17 years. Audley Cummings shone for the Tigers, earning both the male athlete of the meet and the AUS male athlete of the year. He won multiple medals, including taking the heptathlon with 4,414 points.
Elsewhere, the Saskatchewan Huskies earned their record 19th conference championship on the women’s side, beating the reigning champion Alberta Pandas. On the men’s side, the Alberta Golden Bears won the title, knocking off the defending champion Trinity Western Spartans. In Ontario, the Guelph Gryphons won the OUA men’s and women’s titles, and in Quebec, the Laval Rouge et Or won both titles. All teams will now prepare for the national championships at the University of Windsor from March 8-10.
Men’s No. 8 Rams best No. 7 Gee-Gees, women’s No. 2 Cougars top No. 10 Dinos
The U SPORTS basketball playoffs are well underway, and there have been plenty of interesting results so far. On the men’s side, one of the most notable came from the No. 8 Ryerson Rams, who downed the No. 7 Ottawa Gee-Gees 77-69 on the road in the OUA quarterfinals Saturday. Manny Diressa led Ryerson with 22 points despite only making four of 16 shots from the field, hitting an outstanding 13 of 14 attempts from the free-throw line. He also had eight rebounds and five steals. Meanwhile, Jean-Victor Mukama chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds for the Rams.
The men’s basketball championships, the Final 8, will again be in Halifax, but will be hosted by the Acadia Axemen for the first time since 1971. The host Axemen have already qualified, along with the Canada West finalists, the No. 2 Alberta Golden Bears and No. 5 Calgary Dinos. The No. 1 Carleton Ravens, No. 3 Brock Badgers, No. 8 Rams and Windsor Lancers will contend for two guaranteed OUA spots, with Brock playing Ryerson and Carleton facing Windsor, while the No. 6 McGill Redmen, Bishop’s Gaiters, Laval Rouge et Or and Concordia Stingers are challenging for the one guaranteed Quebec berth, with McGill facing Bishop’s and Laval taking on Concordia in the RSEQ semifinals. Out east, the No. 9 Dalhousie Tigers are in the hunt for the one guaranteed AUS berth, as are the UNB Varsity Reds, Saint Mary’s Huskies, St. FX X-Men and, Memorial Sea-Hawks. Dalhousie and UNB have byes to the semifinals, while St. FX and Acadia and Memorial and Saint Mary’s will face off in the quarterfinals. One wild-card team will also head to the final 8.
On the women’s side, the No.2 Regina Cougars are set to host the national championships for the fourth time, but they’re not taking that berth for granted. The Cougars beat the No. 10 Calgary Dinos 61-58 and 66-60 in their best-of-three semifinal series in Regina this weekend, led by 12 points and seven rebounds from Charlotte Kot in that first game (where Calgary had two good late chances from Brianna Ghali and Shannon Hatch from three-point range, but both rimmed out) and by seven points and 11 rebounds from Michaela Kleisinger in the second game. Those points included this crucial three:
There are still a lot of teams in contention for appearances at the women’s basketball Final 8, with 16 vying for six spots. The host Cougars and Canada West finalist No. 7 Saskatchewan Huskies have already qualified, while the No. 9 Trinity Western Spartans and No. 10 Calgary Dinos will face off in the conference third-place game for the second non-host Canada West berth. In Ontario, the No.1 Carleton Ravens, the No. 4 McMaster Marauders, the No. 8 Windsor Lancers and the Ottawa Gee-Gees are in contention for two berths, while in Quebec, the No. 5 Laval Rouge et Or, No. 6 McGill Martlets, Bishop’s Gaiters and UQAM Citadins are fighting for a single berth. Out East, the No. 3 Acadia Axewomen will battle Cape Breton, Saint Mary’s, Memorial, UPEI, and UNB for a single berth. There’s also a wild-card spot to be determined after the conference playoffs.
Men’s No. 4 Bobcats fall to No. 7 Wesmen, while top seeds roll on on women’s side
The volleyball playoffs have begun in Canada West, and the men’s side saw an interesting upset. The No. 4 Brandon Bobcats fell in their quarterfinal series at homes against the No. 7 Winnipeg Wesmen, with Brandon winning the opener 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 Friday and winning the first two sets Saturday, but then going on to lose in five sets (25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 19-25, 11-15). On Sunday, Winnipeg completed the upset, winning 25-22, 25-14, 11-25, 25-21. Adrian Dyck led the Wesmen with 13 kills and 10 digs in the decisive game.
That result means Winnipeg’s still in the hunt for one of Canada West’s three berths at nationals, as are the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans (who the Wesmen will face next), the No. 2 UBC Thunderbirds and the No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears. There were no upsets to be had on the women’s side, though, with the No. 2 Calgary Dinos, No. 3 UBC Okanagan Heat, No. 4 UBC Thunderbirds and No. 8 Alberta Pandas all winning their quarterfinals. The Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada playoffs will begin next week on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Social media posts of the week:
Victor Findlay of the Canadian University Sports Network had some good thoughts on the Concordia-Queen’s men’s hockey result, both about how this continued the Stingers’ improvement and marked the end to a remarkable career for the Gaels’ Kevin Baillie:
Andrew has been covering university sports in Canada since 2005 at outlets such as The Queen's Journal, The CIS Blog, and Yahoo Canada, where he also served as the editor of the Canadian football blog 55-Yard Line. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Queen's University with a major in history, and currently works as a staff writer and editor for Awful Announcing and The Comeback.