Rugby reigns supreme

OUA champion women honoured as varsity Team of the Year, while Pegg and Underwood take top prizes at Colour Awards

Julie-Anne Staehli (above) raced to the Outstanding Performance award, while rugby players Liam Underwood and Claragh Pegg (below) swept graduating student-athlete honours at Tuesday’s banquet.
Julie-Anne Staehli (above) raced to the Outstanding Performance award, while rugby players Liam Underwood and Claragh Pegg (below) swept graduating student-athlete honours at Tuesday’s banquet.
Supplied by Ian MacAlpine
Supplied by Ian MacAlpine

Women’s rugby dominated the annual varsity team Colour Awards Tuesday night, snagging three of the six major awards.

Athletes from the 13 varsity teams were recognized for their performances this season, as awards for most outstanding performance, most outstanding male and female student-athlete and male and female rookie of the year were presented.

Additionally, the varsity team of the year was honoured for their performance in the 2013-14 season.

Jim Tait Trophy for outstanding varsity team: Women’s rugby

After capturing the program’s first CIS medal, women’s rugby added another new honour by bringing home the Jim Tait Trophy for the first time in team history.

A perfect 5-0 record during the regular season netted the Gaels the OUA’s Russell division championship. From there, they headed into a playoff showdown with the Guelph Gryphons.

One year removed from a title game loss to Guelph, Queen’s captured their first OUA title with a 19-15 win, snapping Guelph’s five-year reign atop the OUA.

At the CIS championships, the Gaels finished third, with their only loss of the season coming to the eventual national champion Alberta Pandas.

Back Lauren McEwen was named the Russell Division player of the year and an All-Canadian, joining teammate Claragh Pegg on the team. Three other members of the Gaels were named OUA All-Stars this season.

Head coach Beth Barz called the receiving the award “a testament to what [the team has] done over a long number of years.” She added that this year’s squad wasn’t all too different from last year’s, though they had additional confidence in themselves this season.

“All the physical stuff has been there for quite some time, but the ability to believe in what they can do individually and together was definitely the biggest piece,” she said.

Jenkins Trophy for outstanding male student-athlete: Liam Underwood (Men’s rugby)

Fourth-year fly-half Liam Underwood is no new face to the podium at the Colour Awards. Last year, he was the co-winner for the Outstanding Performance of the Year award, while this year he took home the Jenkins Trophy, bolstering his already impressive resumé.

Underwood has represented Canada on the international level seven times, making his first start with the national team last year.

In his time with the Gaels, he was named the OUA Rookie of the Year in 2009 and was twice named to the OUA all-star team. The province’s leading scorer in 2011, his team captured the OUA championship in 2013, 2012 and 2009.

Underwood said winning the award was a great way to cap off his five years with the Gaels.

Due to commitments with the national team, Underwood was held to only a single match this year, though he tallied 21 points in the game.

“Three championships in five years with the awards is pretty good. I just wish I had played a little more,” he said.

PHE ’55 Alumnae Award for outstanding female student athlete: Claragh Pegg (Women’s rugby)

Women’s rugby captain Claragh Pegg led her team to two of her program’s firsts this season, snagging both an OUA championship and a bronze on the national stage.

On the individual level, Pegg has been named an All-Canadian, a three-time OUA All-Star and an academic All-Canadian.

She helped her team overcome the powerhouse Guelph Gryphons to capture the OUA title before rounding out the year with a CIS bronze medal.

Pegg is confident her team will go further next year because of its large veteran makeup.

Outstanding Performance of the Year (OPY): Julie-Anne Staehli (Cross Country/Track)

Second-year runner Julie-Anne Staehli brought home a Colour Award for the second year in a row.

Last year’s outstanding varsity club rookie of the year, Staehli’s performances in both track and cross-country allowed her to claim this year’s Outstanding Performance of the Year award.

Staelhi captured OUA gold and bronze medals in track as well as a silver medal in cross-country. On the national level, she captured the CIS gold medal in cross-country to go along with another gold in track.

Staelhi also competed on the international level, representing both Canada and Queen’s at the 2014 FISU Cross Country Championships in Uganda, where Canada finished with the bronze medal.

She said she felt honoured to be nominated both years.

“I didn’t know that I would come this far, and so it has definitely been a great surprise for me too.”

Alfie Pierce Trophy for top male rookie: Kevin Bailie (Men’s hockey)

In only his first season, Kevin Bailie has already been recognized as one of the best players in the OUA.

His contributions played a major role in men’s hockey’s resurgence this year. With Bailie in net, the team was able to make it past the first-round of the playoffs this season — a feat they hadn’t achieved since 2003-04.

He was named the CIS Rookie of the Year, OUA East MVP, OUA top goaltender and an OUA East All-Star this year. He was also selected to be a part of the CIS All-Rookie and OUA All-Rookie team.

“It’s nice being recognized by the school in front of my fellow peers,” Bailie said.

While he was happy with the awards he won this season, there was another one Bailie would have preferred to bring home.

“I’d trade [the awards] in a thousand times for a championship,” Bailie said.

Alfie Pierce Trophy for top female rookie: Karley Heyman (Women’s rugby)

Women’s rugby wing Karley Heyman was able to find her role and excel in her position as soon as she donned a Gaels jersey.

She helped push both her team and program farther than they have gone before with her scoring, being named an OUA All-Star and finishing second in rookie scoring in the OUA regular season and playoffs.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Heyman said about the award. “I wasn’t expecting it.”

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