OUA announces 2017 cross country major awards and All-Stars

Photo by Kevin Jarrold
Photo by Kevin Jarrold

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the 2017 cross country major award winners and All-Stars.

Second-year runner Branna MacDougall finished first overall in the women’s 8km race, and in doing so, becomes the second consecutive Queen’s Gael to earn OUA MVP honours (Claire Sumner, 2016). MacDougall crossed the finish line in 27:19.5, more than three seconds clear of the second place runner Kristina Popadich (Western).

MacDougall’s strong efforts helped catapult her Queen’s Gaels group to the top of the team standings as well – 25 points clear of silver medalist Toronto – ending what was a phenomenal year for the team and for the Kingston, Ont. native personally. Along with her OUA gold medal, MacDougall also earned a first-place finish at the Western Invitational, setting a new course record in the process.

Certainly, it was an impressive finish for MacDougall, but a truly astounding performance for the entire Queen’s Gaels squad. The Tricolour backed up their top U SPORTS ranking with a solid team win, even dethroning the 13-time consecutive champion Guelph Gryphons with a trio of First-Team All-Stars (MacDougall, Amy Stephenson, and Sumner). For his efforts in leading this championship Queen’s squad, Steve Boyd has been selected by his peers as the Women’s Coach of the Year.

Crossing the finish line just a couple minutes behind MacDougall’s impressive finish was Lakehead’s Rebekkah Pyle. The first-year runner was the 21st to complete the race, securing a time of 29:33.9, and in doing so, took home Rookie of the Year honours on the women’s side.

The honour caps off what was a tremendous freshman year for the Burlington, Ont. native, wherein she competed at a high level throughout thanks to her work ethic, focus, and ability to execute her race plan.

While it is important to able to execute within the race, it’s also important to do so beyond the course, which is something that the Women’s Community Service Award winner did in spades. Toronto’s Christiana Agustin, who turned in a 22nd place finish at the OUA Championships to help the Varsity Blues secure a silver medal team finish, is an active volunteer in the community in many facets. She has actively been involved with the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Street Support Team, wherein she coordinated educational seminars, trips to the homeless shelters, and more.

Beyond this, Agustin has also volunteered at Member of Parliament Michael Levitt’s office, serves as a social media intern for Canada Africa Partnership Network, and got involved as a high school ambassador for an international development conference at U of T. The Scarborough, Ont. native does all this while also maintaining U SPORTS academic all-Canadian standing.

On the men’s side, meanwhile, fourth-year Guelph Gryphons veteran Connor Black earned the individual gold at the OUA Championships, as well as MVP honours, crossing the 10km finish line in 30:32.2.

This gold medal performance book-ended what was a successful overall season for the Guelph captain, who kicked off his 2017 campaign with a win at the Queen’s Cross Country Invitational and a second-place finish at the Princeton Invitational.

After a slip from atop the podium last year, the Gryphons’ captain, along with a quartet of additional All-Stars, regained their first place finish after just one year removed. Not only did the Gryphs’ regain the golden finish, but they did so for the 16th time in the last 19 years, truly setting the pace in the men’s side for the past two decades. For his efforts in helping the Guelph squad hoist the banner once again, head coach Dave Scott-Thomas has earned yet another Coach of the Year nod – his sixth in seven years.

Having already earned a fourth and fifth-place finish, respectively, McMaster Marauders Max Turek did one better by earning individual bronze at the OUA Championship. By crossing the finish line in third place, with a time of 30:39.5 in the 10km run, Turek topped all other first-year runners and earned himself Rookie of the Year honours.

While it was a great year on the course for Western’s captain Ben Carson, it may be even more substantial off of it, as epitomized in his Community Service Award earning efforts.

Carson has been part of Western’s Mustangs Care initiative for the past three years, which allows athletes the opportunity to give back to the community. In his time as part of the initiative, Carson has participated in such events as food bank visits, school day events with elementary school students, and visits to Boys and Girls Clubs. While he has been involved in several capacities, it’s the latter that Carson has dedicated most of his time to; organizing a group of Western athletes to visit the club, running drills and games for different sports, and helping the children to develop a variety of skills along the way.

Not to be outdone, his presence around his cross country teammates is just as impactful, as he is not only a terrific runner, but also well-respected for his work ethic and leadership. He even gives time helping to organize special events for the team, including the Terry Fox Run and Run to Fight Poverty.

A complete list of OUA cross country major award winners and All-Stars is as follows:

Women’s MVP – Branna MacDougall, Queen’s

Women’s Rookie of the Year – Rebekkah Pyle, Lakehead

Women’s Community Service Award – Christiana Agustin, Toronto

Women’s Coach of the Year – Steve Boyd, Queen’s

 Men’s MVP – Connor Black, Guelph

Men’s Rookie of the Year – Max Turek, McMaster

Men’s Community Service Award – Ben Carson, Western

Men’s Coach of the Year - Dave Scott-Thomas, Guelph

Women’s OUA All-Stars

First-Team

Branna MacDougall, Queen’s
Kristina Popadich, Western
Sasha Gollish, Toronto
Amy Stephenson, Queen’s
Claire Sumner, Queen’s
Lucia Stafford, Toronto
Stef Smith, Windsor

Second-Team
Danielle Jossinet, Guelph
Sarah Wismer, Guelph
Molly Steer, Queen’s
Melissa Caruso, McMaster
Bettina Boucher, Laurier
Hannah Woodhouse, Guelph
Emily Nowak, McMaster

Men’s OUA All-Stars

First-Team
Connor Black, Guelph
Sergio Raez Villanueva, McMaster
Max Turek, McMaster
Eric Wynands, Queen’s
Jeffrey Tweedle, McMaster
Josh Kellier, Guelph
Isaiah Frielink, Western

Second-Team
Andrew Nebel, Windsor
Ben Carson, Western
Andrew Shepherd, Guelph
Mark Patton, Guelph
Robert Lawand, Toronto
Mitchell Ubene, Guelph
Mark Schmidt, Queen’s