Men’s fencing cleans up at club awards

Squad repeats as Queen’s best club after second straight OUA title

The men’s fencing team picked up its second straight varsity club of the year award on Tuesday night.
The men’s fencing team picked up its second straight varsity club of the year award on Tuesday night.

About 320 athletes from 20 different varsity clubs gathered at the Ambassador Hotel on Tuesday night for the varsity clubs portion of the 76th annual Colour Awards, but the men’s fencing team picked up almost half the accolades.

The varsity clubs night was the first half of a two-day gala honouring varsity sports at Queen’s. While many varsity clubs take part in OUA and CIS competition, they’re a notch below varsity teams because they receive less funding from Queen’s Athletics.

Although each club handed out its respective awards, five major honours were up for grabs on Tuesday night — the Award of Merit for the top varsity club, the Jack Jarvis and Marion Ross Trophies for the top male and female student-athletes, and the Alfie Pierce Trophy for the Male and Female Rookies of the Year.

Award of Merit for top team: men’s fencing

For the second straight year, the men’s fencing team was named Varsity Club of the Year. The award comes after the team earned its second consecutive OUA Championship banner by beating the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in a tiebreak fence-off at the ARC on Feb. 12.

The Gaels medaled in every competition they attended this season, but Alfie Pierce Rookie of the Year Al Quinsey said the team’s goals will be just as high next year.

“Most of our best players are returning,” he said. “I’m expecting that we will be able to get the men’s banner next year.”

Marion Ross Trophy for top female athlete: Emily Young, figure skating

Fourth-year figure skater Emily Young added another trophy to her stack of Queen’s awards. In her four years with the team, the co-captain won four OUA gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals. She was also a three-time team MVP and academic all-star.

On Tuesday, Young teared up when talking about her career with the team.

“It’s been one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “[Coming to Queen’s] allowed me to pursue my academic goals as well as my athletic goals while continuing the sport I love so much.”

Young credited her teammates for much of her athletic success.

“It’s a very peer-based team,” she said. “I gain motivation, ideas and inspiration from the other skaters.”

Jack Jarvis Trophy for top male athlete: Michael Nishiyama, track and field

Fifth-year track and field co-captain Michael Nishiyama won the Jack Jarvis Trophy after posting his best-ever result at nationals — a sixth-place finish in the 1,000 metre race. Nishiyama was also part of the 4x800 metre relay team that finished ninth.

In his five years with the track and field team, Nishiyama won three OUA silver medals and qualified twice for individual events at nationals. But he said the Jack Jarvis award still surprised him.

“I really didn’t expect to win this award,” he said. “It’s an amazing way to end my season and my career at Queen’s.”

Even though Nishiyama is leaving the team next season, he’ll still be at Queen’s finishing up his master’s degree.

“It’s sad to leave competition-wise but ... I’ll still run and train with a lot of the guys,” he said.

Alfie Pierce Trophy for top female rookie: Haley Smith, cycling

Smith had an outstanding rookie season, winning every competition she raced in while leading the cycling team to its second consecutive provincial University Cup Championship.

“I had a really good season outside of school last year and I was hoping it would carry into [this season],” she said. “It feels really good to be recognized when you feel like you’ve achieved something.”

Despite this season’s individual and collective accolades, Smith said she’s already looking forward to next season.

“I want to win again.”

Alfie Pierce Trophy for top male rookie: Al Quinsey, fencing

In his first season with the men’s fencing team, Quinsey picked up a ninth-place individual showing in the épée division at the OUA tournament while helping Gaels to their second consecutive OUA title.

Although Quinsey said he was surprised to win the Alfie Pierce trophy, he said he felt prepared and confident entering this season.

“Before I came to Queen’s I had five years of experience,” he said. “Most of the people on the university circuit are also on the national circuit [so] I’d fenced most of the people before.” Quinsey said he learned a lot from épée team captain Karl Gardiner.

“[He’s] one of the top épée fencers in Canada,” he said. “Fencing with him is just an amazing experience.”


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