Rhodes Scholar McCuaig among honorees at McGill cross-country and track awards gala

Sarah McCuaig (centre) receives Andrea Taylor memorial award from Randy and Ann Taylor

Sarah McCuaig (centre) receives Andrea Taylor memorial award from Randy and Ann Taylor

MONTREAL – Head coach Dennis Barrett announced his team’s major award winners at the 16th annual McGill University cross-country running and track & field awards gala at the Carrefour Sherbrooke, a residence on the downtown campus, Friday.

Jessica Porfilio of Longueuil, Que., and Benjamin Raymond of Laval, Que., were named most valuable players of the cross-country teams, while Toronto native Alana Battiston and Vincent Parent-Pichette of Verdun, Que., earned MVP honours in track.

Team captain Sarah McCuaig, a recent Rhodes scholarship recipient from Waterloo, Ont., became only the second repeat winner of the Andrea Taylor Memorial Award, presented annually to a female who contributes something unique to the team, while promoting unity and demonstrating the exceptional characteristics of Andrea Taylor, a former McGill athlete who succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 21 in 1997. The trophy presentation was made by Ann and Randy Taylor, parents of the late McGill track star, who travelled in from Pickering, Ont., for the soiree.

Other cross-country honorees included the aforementioned Raymond and Chantal Bourassa of Sarnia, Ont., both of whom were named rookie of the year. Evelyn Anderson of Calgary, Alta., and Montrealer Alexander Ray each received most improved player awards.

On the track & field side, Caroline Tanguay of St. Hubert, Que., and Javier Montalvo, Closter, N.J., merited rookie-of-the-year status, while Ellen Parker, Halifax, N.S., and Riley van Ryswyk, Surrey, B.C., each received most improved player plaques.


Andrea Taylor Memorial Award:

Sarah McCuaig, an all-star in both track and cross-country who hails from Waterloo, Ont., who joins former Martlets distance runner Deenie Quinn as the only multiple winner of the Andrea Taylor award, battled through asthma to help lead the Martlets to conference titles in both cross-country and track. Never one to complain about illness and injuries, McCuaig was extremely supportive of her teammates and was the first to volunteer to help organize team events. In the fall, she claimed silver at the Quebec cross-country championships, completing the 5k course in 18:57 to help McGill win the conference title. During the RSEQ track championships in the winter, the 23-year-old microbiology senior scored 18.25 points, including gold in the 1500m (4:42.70) as the Martlets claimed another conference title. An Academic All-Canadian and honoree on the Principal’s Student-athlete Honour Roll, she will be heading overseas to the University of Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship next fall. At the McGill Athletics Gala last week, she received the Muriel V. Roscoe Trophy, awarded to a graduating female athlete for proficiency and leadership.


Most Valuable (W):

Jessica Porfilio of Longueuil, Que., repeats as team MVP. The 21-year-old nursing sophomore finished first of 56 runners at the RSEQ championship meet, where she was named as the conference’s runner of the year. Porfilio, who has merited all-star status in each of her first two seasons, completed the 5k course in 18:49, edging out her nearest rival by an eight-second margin. At the CIS championship meet, she was McGill’s top performer, placing 24th overall and leading the Martlets to a seventh-place finish.

Most Valuable (M):

Benjamin Raymond, a 20-year-old physical and health education freshman from Laval, Que., was McGill’s leading runner in all five of his meets. He was voted the conference rookie of the year and earned all-star honours. He placed second at the McGill Open, did not compete at the Western and Sherbrooke meets, then was fourth in the Rouge et Or Invitational, fourth at the UNB-St. Thomas Invitational and second at the league championship meet on the Plains of Abraham, where he completed the 10k circuit in 32:39, finishing just two seconds off the pace. At the CIS championships, Raymond led the Redmen again, posting a 56th place finish overall in London, Ont.

Rookie of the Year (W):

Chantal Bourassa, a 19-year-old science freshman from Sarnia, Ont., got off to a slow start in her first university competition, ending up as the team’s 10th-place finisher at the opening McGill Open. But her confidence grew and fitness improved significantly as the season went along and by season’s end, she helped the Martlets capture the league championship, finishing sixth on the team and 10th overall. She saved her best race for last and was the team’s fifth scorer at the CIS championship, coming in 59th overall to help the Martlets end up with a seventh-place standing.

Rookie of the Year (M):

Benjamin Raymond, Laval, Que.
(see profile in MVP award listed above)

Most Improved (W):

Evelyn Anderson, a 19-year-old marketing sophomore from Calgary, Alta., showed much improved confidence and strength this year to tackle the 5k distance and hilly terrain of cross-country running. Her hard work and persistence paid off this season as she was consistent scorer throughout the season for the Martlets. Anderson was McGill’s fifth-leading scorer at the McGill Open, fifth at the Western, fourth at Sherbrooke, third at the Rouge et Or Invitational and did not compete at the UNB-St. Thomas Invitational. At the 10k league championship meet, she was the team’s fourth-place finisher (sixth overall in a time of 19:22), where the Martlets brought home the team title. At the CIS Championships, she was fourth among the team’s scoring leaders and finished 58th overall after sitting on the sidelines last year.

Most Improved (M):

Alexander Ray, a 22-year-old history sophomore from Montreal, bounced back from an injury-plagued freshman campaign in which he was only being able to compete once, He was McGill’s third-leading scorer at the McGill Open and finished third at the Western. Ray did not compete at the Sherbrooke or Laval meets and did not finish at the UNB-St. Thomas Invitational but returned from injury to produce a gutsy run at the 10k RSEQ championship meet, where he was the team’s fifth-place finisher (23rd overall in a time of 35:28), to score points and help the Redmen defeat Sherbrooke to finish second in the standings. At the CIS championships in London, Ont., he was McGill’s fourth-leading scorer, finishing the 10k loop in 35:37.


Most Valuable (W):
Alana Battiston, a 25-year-old senior who returned to McGill for a second degree, hails from Toronto and is studying dietetics. The fifth-year veteran was a one-woman wrecking crew at the RSEQ championships and helped lead the Martlets to their first track title in six years. She accounted for 28 points, or 22.1 per cent of the team’s scoring, winning the 60-metre hurdles (9.19 seconds) and the pentathlon with a school record 3,515 points. Battiston finished second in the 600m and also helped the Martlets gain second-place finishes in both the 4x400m and 4x800m relays and ended up third in the shot put with a toss of 10.44m. She capped off her university career placing fifth in the pentathlon at the CIS championships.

Most Valuable (M):
Vincent Parent-Pichette, a 21-year-old physical and health education freshman from Verdun, Que., proved to be a stalwart in the 600m and 1000m, as well as the 4x400m and 4x800m relays. An impressive 1000m gold medal victory at RSEQ provincial championships, clocking in at 2:27.39 to qualify for the CIS championships, where he finished eighth in 2:29.39. During the season, he helped set McGill records in both the 4x400m (3:19.02) and 4x800m relays (7:40.74).

Rookie of the Year (W):
Caroline Tanguay, a 20-year-old physiotherapy freshman from St. Hubert, Que., got off to a fast start to her university career, with first-place finishes in both the high jump and pole vault at the Sherbrooke and Laval meets. However, a mid-season injury limited her training and ability to compete for the next few events. Despite the setback, she bounced back to win gold in high jump at the RSEQ championships, where she leaped 1.71m to qualify for Nationals. At the CIS championships, she jumped 1.65m to post a seventh-place finish.

Rookie of the Year (M):
Javier Montalvo, a 19-year-old arts freshman from Closter, N.J., showed some impressive range, competing in distances from 200m to 800m during his premiere season for the Redmen. Along the way, he helped establish school records in both the 4x400m (3:19.02) and 4x800m relays (7:40.74).

Most Improved (W):
Ellen Parker, an 18-year-old science freshman from Halifax, showed impressive improvement over the course of the season. She shaved nearly one second off her time in the 60m dash, going from 9.03 seconds to 8.11 over the course of the season. At the conference championships, she was an important leg on the winning 4x200m relay, which registered a 1:44.26 to qualify for the CIS championships.

Most Improved (M):
Riley van Ryswyk, a 19-year-old electrical engineering sophomore from Surrey, B.C., improved his indoor personal best in the pole vault by 23 centimetres and won the gold in the event, clearing a height of 4.31m at the league championships, where he also finished sixth in the long jump. He qualified for Nationals in the pole vault, where he finished eighth with a height of 4.30m.


Earl Zukerman
McGill Sports Info Office

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