PHOTO AND STORY SUBMITTED BY: DAVID LARKINS
A pair of award-winning fifth-year seniors took home the top prize for Wesmen Athletics as part of the U of W’s athletics awards banquet Thursday night.
Women’s basketball point guard Antoinette Miller and men’s volleyball libero Logan Brennan were named the female and male athletes of the year during the awards ceremony at the Radisson Hotel Winnipeg Downtown.
Miller, who played two seasons with the Wesmen and was a first-team all-Canadian both years, capped her eligibility by being named the Canada West outstanding player of the year and defensive player of the year. She became the first woman in Canada West history to win both of those awards in back-to-back years.
Miller, who was the U SPORTS defensive player of the year in 2016-17, put up numbers this season that surpassed even her impressive statistics from a year ago. Miller, from Phoenix, Ariz., led the nation in scoring (25.9 points per game) and steals (3.9), and shot 39.7 per cent from the three-point line, which was second in Canada West and seventh in U SPORTS. Miller also averaged 9.1 rebounds per game, sixth in Canada West and second among guards.
Brennan, a native of Bragg Creek, Alta., was a second-team all-Canada West selection and won the Dale Iwanoczko Award nationally for his academics and community service.
On the court, Brennan was one of the top defensive presences in Canada, notching 219 digs to finish third in the nation in that category. He was fourth in digs per set (2.31) in Canada West and 10th in Canada. Brennan showed his versatility and importance late in the season when two of U of W’s top attackers, David Bommersbach and Taylor Howe, went down to lengthy injuries. In their absence, the 5-foot-11 Brennan stepped into a vacated left-side position and played an attacking role for the first time in his university career.
Brennan was also named the Keith Cooper Award winner for community service, and the men’s team MVP.
Also Thursday, men’s basketball point guard D.J. Dixon and women’s soccer forward Shae-Lynn Dodds were named the male and female rookies of the year. Dixon, a Toronto native, appeared in all 20 conference games for the Wesmen and was a steadying force as a back-up point guard with U of W’s second unit. Dodds, meanwhile, led the team in points and had two goals in her first year out of Sturgeon Heights Collegiate.
Daniel Thiessen of men’s volleyball and Rylie Dickson of women’s volleyball were named the Bill Wedlake Award winners as most improved athletes. Thiessen, from Springs Christian Academy, went from appearing in only half of the team’s matches as a freshman last season to being one of the team’s top attackers, finishing second in kills. Dickson, a third-year setter from Killarney, Man., became a more consistent all-around contributor and tied for the team lead in total blocks.
The Wesmen also honoured their academic all-Canadians for the 2016-17 school year. In order to achieve academic all-Canadian status, a student must maintain an 80% average or higher. The Wesmen had 46 athletes reach that threshold, a school record.
MVP: Katia Occhino and Tyler Johnson
MVP: Antoinette Miller
MVP: Narcisse Ambanza
MVP: Kalena Schulz
MVP: Logan Brennan
KEITH COOPER AWARD (for community service)
Logan Brennan, Men’s Volleyball
TOM KENDALL AWARD (for athletics and academics)
Katia Occhino, Women’s Soccer
DAVE ANDERSON AWARD (for behind-the-scenes support)
Rob Sveinson, Men’s Volleyball assistant coach