Over Reading Week, while U of T shut down for the most part, the Varsity Blues men’s and women’s teams competed in some of their most important tournaments of the season, and did so to great success. The men’s swim team won the cis title while the women’s track and field team claimed the silver medal at the oua championships, but the women’s basketball team sadly saw their post–season come to an end.
The Varsity Blues’ men’s swimming team travelled to Calgary this past weekend and returned as cis swimming champions with U of T’s first national swimming banner since 1994.
The ubc Thunderbirds and the Calgary Dinos had been the only teams to win the banner in the past 18 years.
It was a close race through the three-day championships, but Toronto fought hard to secure their 15–point victory over the second place Thunderbirds and a 25–point margin over the Dinos.
After the first day of competition, the Blues’ men’s team was seeded third and the women fourth. On Day One alone, Toronto secured five medals. Blues’ Andrea Jurenovskis started the competition with a third–place finish in the 50-metre backstroke, and the day would later end with Mike Smerek, Brian Lee, Luke Hall, and Matthew Myers winning a bronze in the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay. Zack Chetrat, who was recently crowned the 2013 oua swimmer of the year, Jeremie Holdom, and Vanessa Treasure each placed second in their respective events.
Day Two saw the men’s team rise two spots in the standings to hold first place heading into the final day of the competition, while the women sat in third place, more than 100 points behind the ubc Thunderbirds. Mike Smerek started the second day of the cis championships by claiming the Blues’ first gold medal of the weekend. Frank Despond and Zack Chetrat quickly followed suit with Despond winning the men’s 400 freestyle by more than two seconds and Chetrat won his fourth career 200 butterfly title.
Day Three came down to the wire, and the final standings were dependent upon the last races. ubc fought to overcome their Day Two deficit to move into first place after the men’s 100 freestyle. The Thunderbirds won the final 4×100 medley relay event, but Toronto’s 27–point lead heading into the final race gave them just enough points to bring the Nelson C. Hart Trophy back to U of T for a cis-leading 17th time.
The Toronto women won the cis bronze medal for the second consecutive season.
Blues’ men’s head coach Byron McDonald told The Varsity Blues, “Our swimmers will go home and they will remember this forever. I’m so proud of this group of guys.”
Track and Field
U of T’s women’s track and field team ended this past weekend in Windsor as silver medalists at the 2013 oua championships. The team finished with 147 points, one mere point behind the gold medalist Guelph Gryphons.
The final standings came down to the women’s 4×400 metre relay, the last race of the day. In the race, the Gryphons needed to finish higher than sixth place to secure the title and successfully did so with their fifth place finish in the event. The Gryphons swept the oua track and field titles with the men ans women’s teams coming in first. Despite, being unable to win the entire championship, the Blues did win gold in the final event and set a new oua record.
The Varsity Blues won seventeen medals over the course of the two– day championship competition.
Sarah Wells, a 2012 Olympian, won a silver in the 300 metre race and a gold in the 600 metre, closely followed by fellow Blues swimmer Natalie Geiger.
Geiger later teamed up with Alicia Brown, Khamica Bingham, and Hayley Warren to secure a gold-place finish in the women’s 4×200 relay.
Khamica Bingham smashed the oua record in the women’s 60 metre sprint to win the gold medal with a time of 7.41 seconds.
Laura Maessen won her first oua gold medal in the women’s high jump and third-year distance runner Colleen Hennessey won the bronze medal to conclude the weekend’s individual medals.
The Blues’ track and field teams are now focused on the cis championships to be held in early–March in Edmonton.
The Carleton Ravens defeated the Varsity Blues’ women’s basketball team Saturday, ending Toronto’s playoff hopes. The oua east semi-final game finished with a score of 71–47 for Carleton, as they dispatched the Blues to move on to the oua finals.
This is the second year in a row that the Blues have fallen to Carleton in an oua east semi-final; in 2012, Toronto fell to the Ravens by a margin of 22 points.
Carleton, ranked second in the oua and seventh nationally, started off the game strong, ending the first quarter 24–10. The Blues, who ended the regular season ranked third in the oua, seemed ready to stage a comeback in the second as they outscored Carleton on the quarter. But Toronto couldn’t keep up as Carleton finished the game strong, with high scoring throughout the second half. Carleton ended the contest with higher shooting percentages than the Blues, as well as nearly 20 more rebounds than Toronto.
Despite the overall low scoring performance, some members of the Toronto squad performed well in the loss. Third-year forward Rachael Sider notched 12 points and four steals, rounding off her breakout season. Fourth-year forward Alicia Van Kampen also contributed 12 points, as well as grabbing four rebounds. Jill Stratton, who struggled to sink shots throughout the game, still marked 10 points and five rebounds on the night.
Saturday’s game followed the Blues’ win at home on Wednesday in the oua East quarter-finals, where they triumphed over the York Lions 88–52. The Blues fought hard early, ending the first quarter up 21–3, and never looked back. Toronto outscored the Lions in every quarter, finishing with high shooting percentages, and grabbing 14 more rebounds than York.
Toronto ended the game earning their highest score of the season with 88 points, with fourth-year guard Jasmine Lewin contributing a career-high 25 points. Blues players Julie Longauer, Sider, and Amanda Lauzon also scored in the double digits, and Stratton ended with a career-high nine assists.
Although the Blues’ season is finished, fans have a lot to look forward to next year, with many strong players returning, and some new talent set to join the team.
While many U of T students were basking in the warm sun on a Caribbean beach and even more spent the week buried beneath seemingly endless piles of books, Blues athletes were making history. The Varsity swim team became the first non Canada West team to win the cis title since 1994 and the track and field team witnessed their first podium finish since 2007. Surely this was a much better way to spend Reading Week than writing essays.