Final marks for Gaels

Amy Goodday sandwiched between two defenders.
Amy Goodday sandwiched between two defenders.
The women’s volleyball team was a crowd favourite.
The women’s volleyball team was a crowd favourite.

Back due to popular demand, the Journal reviews the performances of the winter term teams.

Men’s Curling: A+

Led by star skip Bobby Reid, the Queen’s men’s curling team had high hopes for this season. The team was favoured to win the OUA title. Those predictions started to look doubtful as the team got off to a topsy-turvy start that left them at a disappointing 1-3 to start the campaign. The Gaels turned it around just in time, winning their last three games and earning a spot in the OUA championships. They stayed hot at the finals, going undefeated in the round-robin before coasting through the semis and rolling over Toronto 8-1 in the OUA Championship. The title is the team’s first since 2000. All members of the championship team are eligible to return, so talk of a dynasty is not unfounded.

Figure Skating: A+

The Golden Gaels lived up to their name and shone in every sense of the word this year. The group captured the OUA banner, wrestling it away by a hair from the two-time defending champions, the Western Mustangs. Not only did the Gaels win the OUA title, they captured first prize in every university-level competition they entered over the past year. Jennifer Howitt was named competitor of the year and Rebecca Legg, Heather Burnett, Katie Hunt, Rachel Coens and Allison Young were all named OUA all-stars. Most of the team should be back next year, allowing the vaunted Gaels program to attempt a repeat performance.

Mountain Biking: A+

Coming into the 2003 season, both coach Wes Ulrich and captain Wai-Ben Wong were convinced that the mountain biking team could win provincials. The team prepared all season and peaked at the right time. The Gaels took home the Ontario University Cup, unseating back-to-back champion U of T, to whom Queen’s finished second on both previous occasions. Second-year biker Greg Edgar won the overall men’s title for the second straight year, while Gael riders also placed fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth. On the women’s side, rookie Catherine Vipond won the overall title, winning every race in which she took part.

Women’s Volleyball: A

The women’s volleyball team had good reason to be optimistic coming into the season. The roster boasted the best hitter in the league Lisa Hiller, who was supported by talent throughout the line-up. The opening weekend was rough as the Gaels lost their two opening games. The defeats proved to be an anomaly, however, as they won 10 of their final 12 league matches. They then defeated York to go to the OUA semis for the first time in 10 seasons. At the Final Four, the Gaels picked up a bronze medal by beating McMaster 3-0. Hiller led the league in kills and was named to the OUA east all-star team, along with teammates Sarah Campbell, Stephanie Ward and second-year Amanda Digel. Digel looks to lead the Gaels even further next year, as many key parts instrumental to this year’s successes will be returning.

Men’s fencing: A

The men’s fencing team had a banner year, winning an OUA title. The Gaels had spent the last few years relegated to second place and right from the start, head coach Henk Pardoel knew the team had a golden gleam in their eyes. Team captain Jan Sterniczuk had the upset of the OUA tournament and managed to put in a noteworthy performance in the men’s sabre category. The team managed their victory despite the loss of several seasoned fencers to graduation. The forecast for next year is strong once again, as the squad’s roster is dotted with underclassmen. David Andreae, Robert Calder, Prescott James and Jan Sterniczuk were named OUA all-stars. For all intents and purposes, the men’s team should be a force for years to come.

Women’s fencing: A

The women’s fencing team equalled the output of their male counterparts, securing a double banner win for the Gaels. The team was buoyed in the OUA tournament by a strong performance by team captain Laura Redman. Redman won the gold in the women’s epee. Krissi Baxter, Louise Dignum, Jennifer Kuk and Laura Redman were all named OUA all-stars. The team will be returning with the majority of their players, so look for another strong season.

Women’s hockey: A-

The team was able to ride the scoring prowess of Elizabeth Chiasson and the excellent camaraderie inherent in the rest of the team to the OUA silver medal, the best result in more than 10 years. The Gaels found the back of the net 105 times and goalkeeper Caroline Hare allowed a paltry 41 goals. A record of 17 wins and four losses propelled the squad to second place in the OUA regular season.

Chiasson led the OUA in scoring and was the league’s MVP, establishing her as one of the Gaels’ brightest stars throughout the annals of history. Not only did Chiasson win the MVP award, she carried it back to Jock Harty for the second consecutive year. Chiasson was joined by team co-captain Katie Baker in the post-season award circle, as Baker was named second-team OUA all-star. The team is going to lose some major elements next season and a repeat of this season’s triumph is not likely in the cards.

Women’s Curling: B+

The women’s curling team has not had a lot of success in recent years, with its last OUA regular season title coming 10 years ago. However, the squad was confident that it could improve on past campaigns. The players lived up to their pre-season expectations by tearing through the regular season with a 6-1 record, earning the top seed for the OUA Championship Bonspiel. At the finals, the Gaels rocketed to the top of the field in the round-robin, going undefeated and earning a bye to the championship match. In the gold medal game, Queen’s lost a close encounter with nemesis Brock by a score of 8-6. That said, the Gaels have much to be proud of, having garnered success the likes of which has not been seen at this school in a decade.

Men’s Track and Field: B+

The men’s track and field squad came off of a sixth-place OUA finish in 2003 and set out to improve on that standing this time around. Heading into the OUA meet, the team was ranked at six, but the team turned in an astounding effort. They came up just short of Western for second place, earning a bronze medal. This finish equals their highest finish since 1980, and they set a Queen’s points record with 88. Two members of the squad had record-setting individual performances. Corey Trudeau set a Queen’s record with seven medals in individual events, while Mike Melaney tied the record for most gold medals with four. Both of the team’s stars are graduating, leaving the Gaels to rebuild in 2004.

Men’s basketball: B

The men’s basketball team are in the second year of their rebuilding project and are starting to show some early dividends. The team managed to boost their win total by six wins to secure a record of 10-12. Throughout the year, the young squad had several memorable victories, including defeating the number three-ranked University of Calgary Dinos. The team squeaked into the playoffs for only the sixth time in 30 years and lost a devastatingly close game to the University of Ottawa. At first, the Gaels looked to emerge victorious from the contest but a questionable out of bounds call sealed the win for the Gee-Gees.

The team scored a windfall of post-season awards, with Simon Mitchell earning rookie of the year honours and Ben Doornekamp getting a nod as a second team all-star. With stellar coach Chris Oliver entering his third season and the Gaels returning nearly every player, including 6’8” force-of-nature Neal Dawson, the Gaels are looking to further their climb to national prominence.

Women’s Basketball: B

The women’s basketball team was once again a major player in the OUA eastern conference. The team finished the regular season with a sterling record of 16-6 and Bartlett gymnasium was abuzz with the chance of some deep playoff action. The squad felt the bitter taste of playoff defeat in the OUA east semi-finals, falling by two points to Laurentian.

Erin McDiarmid was the pace-setter for the team, managing to set the Golden Gaels all-time mark for points scored in a career. Not only did McDiarmid pour in buckets like she was at a fire station, she also set the all-time Gaels mark for rebounds, coming in second in the OUA in the process.

The squad should once again be strong next year and is a virtual lock to make the playoffs, although they are losing a few key parts, including McDiarmid.

Men’s hockey: B

The men’s hockey team was solid throughout the season and really came through late with some memorable victories against cross-town rival RMC. The Gaels came out of the Christmas break hotter than coals, winning five out of six games, including the first defeat of McGill in Montreal since 1968. The playoffs held much promise, as the Gaels thumped RMC in the first round by winning their first two games in a three game set. The team then fell to the University of Toronto in the second round.

Despite the playoff exit, the team was much improved from years past. Most members of the squad have a couple of years of eligibility left, so they should look to repeat this season’s success. It is unlikely that the team will escape the second round, but only time will tell.

Triathlon: B

The Gaels were named the “multi-sports” champions. The University of Western Ontario held the event. The Gaels battled the elements, including some fresh powder, to secure their title. David Clinkard was the class of the veteran men’s field, capturing first place despite two junior national triathletes nipping at his heels.

Catriona Jackson secured first place in the female rookie category. The team should be fairly strong next year as the majority of runners are returning.

Women’s Track and Field: B-

The women’s track and field team finished a solid sixth in the OUA in 2003 and the team expected somewhat similar results this season. The team was very competitive throughout the season, which had some great highlights. A record number of personal bests were set by this year’s club and three Queen’s records were broken, including the pole vault, which was broken by rookie sensation Iris Roman. Iris finished a fantastic inaugural campaign by qualifying for the CIS championships with a jump of 3.45 metres. The Gaels represented themselves well at the OUAs, finishing fifth and posting the fourth highest team point total in their history. Superstar Beth Wightman led the team again this year, taking home a gold medal at the CIS championship in the 3,000-metre. Cross-country skiing: B-

The men’s and women’s cross-country skiing teams had solid campaigns, but failed to live up to early expectations. Early in the season, the Gaels were the number one seed in the OUA. However, they faltered slightly as the year wore on. The women’s team captured fourth-place at the OUA finals and the men secured fifth. The team was led by Magi Scallion, who came in fourth in the classic race. Amanda Wilson placed fifth in the skate. Next year looks promising as the team had a record turnout. They were buoyed by many outstanding rookies who look to improve on some of the valuable experience they gained this season.

Men’s Volleyball: D

The men’s volleyball team had high expectations this season, and many involved with the club spoke of winning yet another OUA title. However, after mixed results in the pre-season warm-ups, the team entered league play decimated by injury. They started the campaign 2-5 and never really recovered, stumbling to the finish line and losing seven of their last eight games. Their dismal record left them out of playoff contention for the first time in years. On a brighter note, their record does not speak to their level of competitiveness. Two points decided an incredible 21 sets throughout the season. Despite failing to qualify for the playoffs this year, the Gaels have reason to be confident about next season. The squad should return healthy and primed to compete, with all but two starters returning.

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