Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Handing out the hardware

With the end of the semester upon us, it’s time to look back at the half-season-that-was and recognize some of the highlights from Gryphons athletics that have graced these pages. Without further ado, Speak into the Mike hands out the ‘Golden Mikes’ to the following players, coaches and teams, for their Fall 2009 accomplishments.

Male Athlete of the Half Year – Matt Brunsting: What more than has already been written can be said about the accomplishments of Guelph’s premier distance runner? Brunsting’s season started and finished strong, winning both the Guelph season-opening meet in September, as well as the CIS Championships in Kingston at season’s end, the second consecutive season in which he has taken the national title. With another first team All-Canadian nomination under his belt, Brunsting has established himself as one of the top university runners in Canadian history and takes the inaugural Golden Mike in a landslide. Honourable mentions: Allan Brett (cross-country), Mark Henry (rowing), Nick Fitzgibbon (football).

Female Athlete of the Half Year – Brittany Benn: The second-year centre from the women’s rugby team was quite simply, the most dynamic offensive player in the CIS. Benn led the country in scoring by a wide margin, scoring 13 tries and adding 12 converts, making her a dual threat in both the running and kicking games. Incredibly overlooked by the OUA as the league MVP, Benn’s accomplishments did not go unnoticed by the Ontarion and she is the deserving recipient of the Golden Mike. Honourable mentions: Brienne Stairs (field hockey), Chantique Payne (swimming).

Male Rookie of the Half Year – Robbie Murphy: The first-year striker from the men’s soccer team burst onto the scene in his inaugural season as one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players. With five goals in 12 games, Murphy led the Gryphons in scoring and was also named both OUA and CIS Rookie of the Year. Honourable mentions: Christian Wong (golf), Cam Thorn (football).

Female Rookie of the Half Year – Tegan Stairs: Another OUA Rookie of the Year award recipient, Stairs helped lead the Gryphons to the nation’s top seed going into the national championships. Combined with her older sister, Brienne, the Stairs sisters were arguably the league’s most formidable offensive duo this season. Honourable mentions: Genevieve Lalonde (cross-country), Samantha Bright (soccer).

Coach of the Half Year – Dave Scott-Thomas: Five consecutive women’s CIS cross-country titles and four consecutive men’s CIS titles. ‘Nuff said. Honourable mentions: Colette McAuley (rugby), Michelle Turley (field hockey).

Game of the Half Year – Ravens – 75, Gryphons – 74 (men’s hoops): In their season-opening game, the undermanned and overlooked Gryphons took the defending CIS champions right to the final buzzer. The atmosphere was electric and foreshadowed a series of exciting basketball games, proving that despite losing their two top players from last year, the new-look Gryphons can be a force. Honourable mention: Western/Guelph Homecoming (football), Guelph/McMaster OUA Quarter-finals (men’s soccer).

Tough Break of the Half Year – Cam Thorn (football): The defensive tackle was having an outstanding rookie season that was cut short by an ugly ankle injury in his team’s loss to McMaster in October, requiring Thorn to be taken off the field in an ambulance. Thorn was in the starting lineup from day one and, assuming a full recovery, will anchor the defensive line for years to come.

“He said what?!” Moment of the Half Year: Two words: F*** Western.

Stinker of the Half Year: Western – 60, Guelph – 0 (men’s rugby). Ugh!

Blowout of the Half Year: Guelph – 90, Laurier – 0 (women’s rugby). Somehow, the Laurier coach still won the OUA Coach of the Year award!

Quote of the Half Year: “With what you saw with the running today, if you thought we were strong, wait two months man, we’re going to roll.” – Dave Scott-Thomas, cross-country head coach following his team’s season-opening domination. Nostradamus couldn’t have said it any better.

With half a year in the books, there was certainly no shortage of incredible stories in Gryphons athletics in the past three and a half months. With the second half beginning in the new year, stay tuned for the Winter 2010 version of the Golden Mikes at the end of next semester.