Point/Counterpoint: What’s been the most memorable moment from the 2017-18 varsity season?

The Journal’s sports editors dish out their hot takes on the most exciting points in the fall and winter varsity campaigns

Claire Sumner (left) and Branna MacDougall at the OUA Championships.
Claire Sumner (left) and Branna MacDougall at the OUA Championships.
Journal File Photo

Men’s rugby — OUA Championship

You’d be hard pressed to find a more memorable moment in the 2017-18 varsity season than the men’s rugby team winning the OUA Championships. 

Besides winning by a considerable margin — with the Gaels defeating the Guelph Gryphons 62-17 — hoisting the program’s 23rd Turner Trophy tasted sweet for more reasons than one. 

After losing in the 2016-17 final to the then top-ranked Guelph Gryphons, the 2017-18 championship marked Queen’s fifth win in six years, establishing the Gaels men’s rugby program as the best in the province. 

Arguably the most notable takeaway from the game was the fashion in which the Gaels closed it. Queen’s beat the Gryphons by 45 points — a far cry from earlier in the season when, in the smallest margin of victory of their undefeated year, the team defeated Guelph by just eight points.

“It’s the pinnacle of our whole season,” head coach Dave Butcher told The Journal at November’s championship game, as waves of current and former Gaels players rushed Nixon Field. “And I’m satisfied not only to win it, but in the way we won it.”

With the Turner Trophy returning home this fall and an experienced head coach heading the program for a second year in 2018-19, the Gaels’ will be the favourites to raise the banner once again in the 2018-19 season.

— Sebastian Bron

Women’s cross country — OUA Championship

Going into the 2017 season, the women’s cross country team was aware of the opportunity they had. With 2016 OUA and U Sports champion Claire Sumner returning and Kingston native Branna MacDougall ready to take the OUA by storm, they lived up to every expectation they had for themselves on Oct. 28 at the OUA Championships. 

Rolling into the weekend touting their fifth straight week as the team atop U Sports rankings, the Gaels saw four runners cross the finish line in the race’s top 10. With her three second victory over second place, MacDougall’s victory at the championships was the second year in a row that a Gael won the women’s race.

Following close behind were Amy Stephenson and Claire Sumner in the fourth and fifth place respectively, while Molly Steer claimed the 10th spot in an impressive and unexpected performance. 

While the OUA banner was a major achievement for the cross country program, the historical implications of the win made the day even sweeter. With the Gaels’ previous OUA team championship dating back to 2003, the Gaels snapped the Guelph Gryphons’ 13-year reign as OUA Champions. 

Although they weren’t able to claim gold at the U Sports Championships two weeks later, the championships arguably marked the dawn of a new era for women’s cross country at Queen’s. Even though the Gaels have a large group of graduating athletes, the women’s cross country team is set to compete for the top position in the country for years to come with some high-profile recruits coming in the fall. 

Ultimately, the 2017 OUA Championships wasn’t the closing note on an era; it only initiated what’s to come for this potential dynasty on campus.

— Matt Scace

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