As Reading Week ends and March begins, many OUA sports start their championship seasons. Team sports such as hockey and volleyball are seeded into playoff brackets and usually need to make it to the OUA finals in order to qualify for the national USports Championships. For other sports such as track and field and swimming, national qualification is determined based on individual results in each discipline at the OUA championship meets.
UW’s women’s hockey team enjoyed one of their more successful seasons in recent memory, as forwards Taytum Clairmont and Krystin Lawrence finished one-two in scoring in the OUA. The team qualified for the playoffs as the sixth seed in their division, setting up a three-game series on the road against the York Lions.
UW travelled to Canlan Ice Sports Arena for game one on Feb. 19. The game was scoreless with chances for both sides after the first period, but York took control in the second. An early goal gave the home team a 1-0 lead before three goals in under five minutes put the game out of reach for the Warriors. York would go on to take a 1-0 series lead with a 5-1 victory. UW goaltender Mikayla Schnarr was stellar, making several impressive stops to keep it close.
The Warriors returned to CIF two days later knowing their offence needed to produce if they were going to keep their season alive. Unfortunately, despite 22 shots on goal, UW was unable to find the back of the net. The Lions took the game 3-0, ending the Warriors season to move on to the OUA semifinals against the Nippissing Lakers.
Next up in UW’s banner season was the track and field team, who travelled to the Toronto Track and Field Centre for the OUA Championships. The Warriors started off with a bang, as pentathlete Hannah Blair won gold with a new UW varsity record of 3715 overall points. Janelle Clarke was the next to medal, capturing gold in the long jump with a distance of 5.79m.
Other notable finishers on the meet’s first day included Emma Nero, fourth in the 60m hurdles; Alex Hoerner, fifth in the 1000m race; and Cameron Dean, fourth in the 3000m.
The team continued their success on the second day beginning with Josh Lorentz, who won bronze in the men’s 600m race. Lorentz, along with Immanuel Onyemah, Nathan Hehn, and Owen Babcock, then captured silver in the men’s 4x200m relay. Later in the day, the same team with Liam Clark in place of Onyemah won another silver medal, this time in the 4x400m relay. Lorentz’s 47.69-second anchor leg was the fastest of the entire meet.
The last medal for the Warriors was Solomon Davidson, who won silver in the high jump with a 2.01m leap. Davidson will enter the USports Championships ranked second in the entire country.
Overall, the men’s team finished in sixth with 42.5 points while the women were seventh with 35. In total, UW captured six medals and qualified eight athletes for the national USports Championships on Mar. 5-7 in Edmonton.
Just ending their regular season this weekend were UW’s volleyball teams, both of who played their Seniors’ Day games against the Guelph Gryphons at PAC. Unfortunately, the men’s team dropped their match in straight sets (23, 18, 23), ending a disappointing season. The men missed the playoffs with a record of 4-13, worst in the OUA West Conference.
On the other hand, the women’s team has had a much better season. The women took five sets to defeat Guelph in their final regular-season game, 25-18, 24-26, 25-11, 22-25, 15-13. They haven’t been as good as last year’s third-place squad, but the team has now qualified for the playoffs with an 11-8 record. For their quarterfinal matchup, the women will travel to Toronto next Saturday, crossing over to the OUA East bracket to take on the Varsity Blues who finished their season as the best team in the OUA. The women have their work cut out for them, but their resilience this season should give fans plenty of hope heading into the match.