WINNIPEG - Alberta’s Austin Cole, York’s Peirce Lepage and Brittany Crew and Saskatchewan’s Julianne Labach were honoured Thursday morning as the U SPORTS track and field Athletes of the Year, as the national season award winners were celebrated at the annual awards luncheon.
In men’s competition, the recipients included Cole (Track MVP), Lepage (field MVP), Matthew MacNeill of Guelph (Rookie of the Year) and Alberta’s Spencer Allen (Student-Athlete Community Service Award).
On the women’s side, Labach was named the outstanding performer in track events, Crew captured field MVP honours, Regina’s Joely Welburn earned the Rookie of the Year and Western’s Shaelyn Laurie took home the Student-Athlete Community Service Award.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Spencer Allen, Alberta
Early in his post-secondary journey Allen was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After initial surgery the cancer returned. He completed multiple rounds of chemotherapy in attempts to fight off the disease. He was diagnosed a third time and received surgery.
Without any signs of cancer returning over the last couple of years, it appears the disease is in remission. As a way to contribute back, Allen is very active in the Cross-Cancer Institute, giving back to the Behavioral Medicine lab that is conducting world leading research and work in the fight against cancer. It is important to Allen to help others, and he is doing so in a very impactful and exemplary way. Allen is active in all elements of the lab and often interacts with patients encouraging them and helping build exercise programs. He spends a majority of his day every week in that environment.
In addition to his role at the lab Spencer, as team captain, plays an active role in promoting all community activates within the varsity community and team. He has been formative in shaping a contributing team culture. He promotes literacy formation through read in weeks, community health initiatives, equipment to underprivileged schools and various mental health initiatives. He truly pursues those around him, engaging in meaningful conversation and putting the interests of others always ahead of his own on a daily basis regardless of their perceived level in society. He creates and lives out an attitude of “Bell Let’ Talk.”
In addition to his broader community contributions he is quite active in supporting local track and field events at all levels, always willing to volunteer hours at the track through coaching, clinics or helping run competitive opportunities for kids.
"Spencer is the best pole vaulter in school history, and he continues to increase his athletic goals each season. He is one of the leaders for our program, both on the track and off, and this award shows exactly that,” said Golden Bears head coach Wes Moerman. His work with the Cross Cancer Institute is incredible, and his story of perseverance is remarkable. The way he has been able to turn a personal struggle into motivation to help others is inspiring. He is everything that embodies what it means to be a student-athlete, and I'm thrilled he's being honoured with this award."
OUA: Craig Klomp, Toronto
RSEQ: Julien Pinsonneault, Sherbrooke
AUS: Jonathan Peverill, Saint Mary's
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (TRACK EVENTS): Austin Cole, Alberta
In his short time at the University of Alberta, Cole has already established himself as one of the best short-distance runners in program history. Both at a conference and national level, the Sherwood Park, Alta., native has been recognized as one of the best track athletes in Canada. At the 2019 Canada West Championships, Cole won his second consecutive Canada West gold in the 300m race (33.44), and in the process also bested the record that was set by Canadian Olympian Cyprian Enweani in 1985. Enweani competed for Canada at the 1988 Summer Olympics, and previously held three conference records (60m, 200m & 300m).
Cole also added gold medals in the 4x200m and 4x400m relays, earning both the Performance of the Meet, and Track Athlete of the Year. At the 2018 National Championships in Windsor, Cole also set a new national 300m record with a time of 33.37, earning the Co-Athlete of the Meet.
“Austin is arguably the best sprinter we have at the U of A, and one of the best athletes I have ever coached,” said Golden Bears head coach Wes Moerman. “He is incredibly powerful and athletic and has the confidence and ability to break every record he sets his mind to. He is a leader for our track team, and I’m thrilled he was honoured with this award.”
OUA: Jack Sheffar, Western
RSEQ: Jean-Simon Desgagnés, Laval
AUS: Matthew Coolen, Dalhousie
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (TRACK EVENTS): Julianne Labach, Saskatchewan
OUA: Olivia Romaniw, Guelph
RSEQ: Audrey Jackson, Montreal
AUS: Bailey Smith, UPEI
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (FIELD EVENTS): Brittany Crew, York
CW: Niki Oudenaarden, Calgary
RESQ: Ariane Dubois, Sherbrooke
AUS: Lexie Shannon, UNB
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Joely Welburn, Regina
OUA: Jasmine Lew, Toronto
RSEQ: Catherine Beauchemin, Laval
AUS: Erin McCavour, UNB
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Shaelyn Laurie, Western
CW: Tegan Turner, Manitoba
RSEQ: Camille Bélanger, Sherbrooke
AUS: Bhreagh Burke, Saint Mary's
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (FIELD EVENTS): Pierce Lepage, York
CW: Kieran Johnston, Saskatchewan
RSEQ: Émile Ollivier, Montreal
AUS: Jean-Luc Bastarache, Moncton
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Matthew MacNeill, Guelph
CW: Kenny Blackman Jr., Trinity Western
RSEQ: Jack Crosby, McGill
AUS: Eric Hughes, UNB