The Winter Wrap and Year End Tips of the Hat
Monday, April 9, 2007
The Gryphons’ men’s basketball team started off the season slowly, after a woeful pre-season and a 1-4 start to the regular season. After another slump in January, the team hit its turning point at the end of the month when they upset top-ranked Windsor in front of a pumped-up crowd at the ‘Mitch. This led to a 5-game winning streak which resulted in a home playoff date against the Mustangs. Another win saw them get into the OUA semi-finals for a rematch against Windsor, but they couldn’t pull out another upset. The team looks poised for bigger and better things next year as the team looks to return almost their entire roster.
The women’s basketball team had an amazing season and came within a game of the OUA championships. The season didn’t start quite as they’d expected, after losing a pair of games on the opening weekend, they went on a tear, winning 12 of their next 13 games, including a streak of 10 straight wins running from late November until mid-January. After a bump in the road, 7 more wins took them into the playoffs as the #2 seed in the west. Playoff wins over Lakehead and Western took them to the OUA west final down Highway 6 in Hamilton, where a tough first half did them in. Congratulations to 4th year guard Steph Yallin, as the 4-time OUA all-star received the Sweeney Award for her excellence in athletics, academics, and community involvement.
The figure skating team finished 7th at the OUA championships which took place at Brock University. The duo of Nicole Paquette and Lindsay Webb picked up a bronze medal in the Intermediate Similar Pairs competition, while Sarina Tsai and Andrea DeFibo combined for a silver medal performance in Dance Variation. The team continues to improve following their 7th place performance in Waterloo in January and look to be even better in the 2007-08 season.
The Gryphons swim team had a great year, sending 9 competitors to the CIS finals at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia in February. The men’s team finished 9th and women’s team finished 10th in the overall standings, but the highlight for the Gryphon swimmers was through the performance of Scott van Doormaal, who finished 2nd in the 200 metre butterfly, as well as 4th in the 200 metre backstroke, and 6th in the 100 meter backstroke. These efforts led to the Gryphon swimmer being named a 2nd-team All-Canadian, the lone Guelph swimmer to be nationally recognized as such.
This was a year to remember for the Nordic skiing team, as they finished with their best results in 20 years. Jordan Veenstra, Matti Little and John Rennie all placed within the top 10 in the 10 km skate race, and then followed that up by earning a bronze medal in the 3 x 4 km relays. The women’s teams pulled out 4th and 6th place finishes in their relay. On the last day, another trio of top 10 finishes for the men’s team, this time in the 15km classic race, was a sure sign that the Gryphons ski teams are racing their way to success for the future.
The wrestling team finished up the year with a pair of top-10 finishes at the national championships. Leading the way for the men’s team was James Cako, who had already won the OUA gold medal for the 61 kg category. Cako was almost perfect, only losing to the defending champion from Concordia and ended the championships with a bronze medal. Matt Sparling and Andrew Townshend were both just edged out of medals as they finished 4th place in the 72 and 57 kg categories respectively. The top female wrestler was Stephanie De Vries, who finished 5th in the women’s 72 kg competition. Big things will be expected from the Gryphons wrestlers next year when they host the Guelph Open once again.
The men’s volleyball team’s tumultuous season saw them finish 9th and just miss out on the post-season. The team got off to a slow start, losing their first 5 games, but improved as the season went on and picked up back-to-back 3 set wins in Waterloo and then back in Guelph in early February. The team looks to improve on their late season momentum next year.
It was a tale of two teams for the women’s volleyball team this season. They twice went on 3-game winning streaks, but also lost 3 or more in a row two times. Their second losing streak made the difference for them, as despite upsetting McMaster in the final regular season game, they just missed the playoffs by two points. With things so close, you can expect the women to be in the hunt for the post-season again next year.
As the Gryphons became known as Alberta East for all of the Albertan-born players on their roster this year, they also progressed and took some positive steps forward. On many nights against top teams such as Laurier and Waterloo, the Gryphons hung in there, but couldn’t pull out the victory. The goaltending duo of Andrew Arklie and Adam Jennings faced a lot of rubber this year, but considering that the young team earned a point in half of their games this year, it bodes well for the team next year as they look to earn a playoff spot in the highly competitive Western conference.
If the women’s hockey team’s season could be described in one letter, it would be U. The team started on a roll, and built up a 7-game unbeaten streak before winter break. But after the New Year began, the team struggled greatly, going on an 11-game winless streak to finish the season that saw them lose home-ice advantage in the playoffs. Fortunately, the Gryphons found their offense, and winning touch, just in time as they defeated Western 5-4 in a thrilling game to reach the OUA final four. A pair of one-goal losses would greet the Gryphon women there, but regardless, a 4th place finish in the province was still a good ending to a crazy year.