UVic’s Francois Garners CIS Track Rookie of the Year Honours

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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
 
(ISN) – First-year University of Victoria Vikes track sensation Rachel Francois was honoured as the 2012 CIS track and field female rookie of the year at the CIS awards luncheon on March 8 along with other major award winners who were announced just prior to the opening of the national track and field championships running March 8-10 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Francois, a humanities student from Edmonton, has been the leading force for the Vikes middle distance team. Specializing in the 600m, the rookie has dominated since her university debut – going undefeated the entire season and winning the race at the Golden Bear Invitational and Bison Invitational. At the Canada West Championships, Feb. 24-25, Francois was crowned the Western champion and honoured as a first team all-star and rookie of the year. She achieved the CIS standard each time she raced the 600m and goes into her first CIS Championship ranked No. 2 in the country.

Francois also anchored the Vikes’ 4x800m relay team to Canada West gold in a time of 8:55.43, which is the second-best all-time record at the conference and the fastest in the nation heading into the CIS Championships. She also anchored UVic’s 4×400 relay team to a Canada West silver medal in a new school record time of 3:52.66. Finally she set personal-best times in both the 800 (2:07.70) and 300 (40.09) this season.

“Rachel has quickly established herself as an elite CIS athlete,” said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. “In just her first year of varsity competition, she has already set three new school indoor records, in the 300m, 600m and as a part of the 4×400 team, as well as a lifetime personal best in the 800m.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Anissa Owen of Saint Mary’s (AUS), Gabrielle Lebel of Sherbrooke (RSEQ) and Sarah Swain of Windsor (OUA).

2011-2012 CIS SEASON AWARDS

FEMALE AWARDS

Athlete of the year (track events): Nicole Sassine, Windsor

Nicole Sassine, a fifth-year kinesiology student, has helped the Lancer women capture the CIS title each of the past three campaigns. The native of Windsor, Ont., had an outstanding senior season that saw her claim the Dr. Wendy Jerome Trophy as the OUA’s overall female MVP. She resumed her domination at the conference championships in Toronto, where she was named female MVP in track events after she won gold in the 300m and the 4×200 relay and added silver medals in the 60m hurdles and the 4×400.

“Not only did she score a team-leading 22.5 points to help our women’s team win the OUA banner, but she is a superb team captain and provides great leadership throughout the season,” said Windsor head coach Dennis Fairall.

Nominees from other regional associations were Ashley Ryer of Dalhousie (AUS), Kimberly Hyacinthe of UQAM (RSEQ) and Sharai Siemens of Saskatchewan (Canada West).

Athlete of the year (field events): Laurence Beaudet, Montreal

After being named CIS rookie of the year in 2010-11, Laurence Beaudet of Terrebonne, Que., picked up right where she left off this season as she set a Quebec university record in the long jump with a leap of 6.14m. The 21-year-old finance student claimed silver in both the long jump and the 60m hurdles at last year’s CIS meet and she intends to turn those medals into gold this weekend.

During the last summer season, Beaudet finished fifth in the long jump at the Canadian senior championships.

“Laurence is a very driven athlete who is totally dedicated to academics and athletics,” said coach Sylvain Lavallée. “I think she’s poised to have a very successful meet.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Rebecca Haworth of Dalhousie (AUS), Rachel Jewett of Toronto (OUA) and Rachel McIntosh of Calgary (Canada West).

Rookie of the year: Rachel Francois, Victoria

Rachel Francois, a humanities student from Edmonton, has dominated on 600m in her university debut. She remained undefeated all season in the event, winning the race at the Golden Bear Invitational and the Bison Invitational, before being crowned at the Canada West championships. She achieved the CIS standard each time she raced the 600m and goes into her first CIS championships ranked No. 2 in the country in the event.

Francois also anchored the Vikes’ 4x800m relay team to Canada West gold in a time of 8:55.43, which is the second-best all-time at the conference meet and the fastest in the nation heading into the CIS championships. She also anchored UVic’s 4×400 relay to a Canada West silver medal in a new school record time of 3:52.66. Finally, she set personal-best times in both the 800 (2:07.70) and 300 (40.09) this season.

“Rachel has quickly established herself as an elite CIS athlete,” said Vikes head coach Brent Fougner. “In just her first year of varsity competition at UVic, she has already set three new school indoor records, in the 300m, 600m and as part of the 4×400 relay team, as well as a lifetime personal best in the 800.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Anissa Owen of Saint Mary’s (AUS), Gabrielle Lebel of Sherbrooke (RSEQ) and Sarah Swain of Windsor (OUA).

Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Jodi Souter, Saskatchewan

Jodi Souter has been a leader on and off the track for the Huskies. She helped the Saskatchewan women to their third Canada West title in four seasons, winning gold in the 3,000m and silver in the 1,500m at the conference championships. The fifth-year senior from Pleasantdale, Sask., is also a captain for the women’s cross country team and is a two-time all-Canadian in the sport.

A four-time CIS Academic All-Canadian, and on her way again in 2011-12, the graduate studies student in agriculture received the prestigious national Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Scholarship (NSERC CGS), as well as the University of Saskatchewan Knoles’ Masters Scholarship. She is working toward a masters in plant molecular biology.

Souter has given back to the community by volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society, as well as training undergraduate students and new masters’ students in molecular biology tools. She also represents cross country on the Huskie Athletics Council and is a motivational speaker in the Go Girl program, which inspires teen girls to reach their potential.

“Even with her heavy academic schedule, Jodi has excelled in her performances this season,” said Saskatchewan head coach Joanne McTaggart. “She is always there to help out with fundraising or the organization of social events. She is also always there for her fellow athletes, whether to give advice or be a shoulder to cry on. Jodi is well deserving of this award and we are glad she has been a part of our cross country and track & field programs.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Rebecca Haworth of Dalhousie (AUS), Sarah McCuaig of McGill (RSEQ) and Nadine Frost of Guelph (OUA).

MALE AWARDS

Athlete of the year (track events): Matt Walters, Windsor

Matt Walters had a tremendous year for the Blue & Gold. Named an OUA all-star in cross country, he continued his strong performances throughout the track & field season and conference championships. The third-year liberal arts major was named the most outstanding male performer in track events at the OUA meet after he captured a gold medal and a pair of silvers to help lead the Lancers to a remarkable 14th straight conference banner.

“Matt’s 3:44.92 in the 1,500m earlier this season on Windsor’s track was an incredible performance,” said head coach Dennis Fairall. “He leads the nation in that event and has a great chance at gold this weekend.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Justin Blades of Dalhousie (AUS), Jean-Samuel Lapointe of Laval (RSEQ) and Adam Gaudes of Victoria (Canada West).

Athlete of the year (field events): Tim Hendry, Guelph

Tim Hendry has been the top ranked shot putter in CIS for the entire season and leads his closest rival by nearly one metre thanks to a best throw of 18.26m. He claimed bronze in the event at the 2010 CIS championships and improved to silver a year ago. At the recent OUA championships, his gold medal shot put performance broke the meet record by 75 centimetres.

The fourth-year senior from Parry Sound, Ont., is also ranked second in the country in the weight throw, an event he won at last year’s CIS meet. He is the OUA weight throw silver medallist this season.

“Tim is a world-class athlete and we are blessed to have him,” said Guelph head coach Dave Scott-Thomas. “He came in as a solid recruit and has progressed by leaps and bounds every year. He is not only one of the best athletes in CIS, but in our overall national system as well. I expect to see him as a fixture on senior national teams for years to come.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Rob McCulloch of Dalhousie (AUS), Alexandre Gagné of Sherbrooke (RSEQ) and Stephen McPhee of Alberta (Canada West).

Rookie of the year: Alexandre Gagné, Sherbrooke

Alexandre Gagné was dominant in his Vert & Or debut as he won double gold in the weight throw and shot put at the RSEQ championships. Earlier in the season, he set a Quebec university weight throw record of 18.26m at the McGill Team Challenge, a performance that ranks third in the country heading into the CIS meet. He is also ranked 13th in the shot put thanks to a season best of 14.98m.

The 20-year-old chemical engineering student from Sherbrooke placed seventh in the weight throw at the 2011 senior national championships.

“Alexandre is the best thrower to join the RSEQ in a long time,” said Sherbrooke head coach Richard Crevier. “He is an exceptional athlete who spends countless hours training. He is extremely driven and strives to get better every day.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Jake Wing of Saint Mary’s (AUS), David McKay of York (OUA) and Ahmed Alkabary of Regina (Canada West).

Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Evan Kimick, Calgary

Evan Kimick, a chemical engineering student with a minor in petroleum engineering, stepped up as a leader both on and off the track for the Dinos in 2011-12.

At the Canada West championships, the team captain helped the 4x800m and the 4x400m relays claim silver and bronze, respectively, as the Calgary men captured their first conference title since 1999.

Kimick has volunteered with LinkAges (Formerly Friends of Seniors) for the last six years, until his senior passed away in 2011. During this time, Evan had the opportunity to provide a listening ear to a lonely elderly citizen while gaining wisdom and insight from his senior’s life experiences.

A 2010-11 Academic All-Canadian on pace for the same honour in 2011-12, Kimick volunteers on a monthly basis, serving lunch at the Calgary Drop-in Centre (1.5 hours per visit). In fact, while on his engineering internship (concluding in 2011), he organized a team of students as well as a team within his department to volunteer serving lunch at the Drop-in Centre on a monthly basis. Also, while on internship, he was the president of the Student Social Network Committee at ConocoPhillips Canada, which provided over 40 students and interns the opportunity to network with the Senior Leadership Team and other employees, participate in monthly Lunch n’ Learns, and give back to the community through a variety of volunteer events.

“Evan is our captain and he leads by example both off and on the track,” said Calgary head coach Doug Lamont “Everything he does, it is with the best effort possible! He is an outstanding person and it is an honour to work with him.”

Nominees from other regional associations were Zach MacDonald of St. Francis Xavier (AUS), Philippe Larochelle of Laval (RSEQ) and Carl Shen of Western (OUA).

 

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