U SPORTS Communications
EDMONTON – The national season award winners were announced Thursday morning prior to the start of the 2017 U SPORTS Track & Field Championships.
Two Canada West athletes took home major awards, as Niki Oudenaarden from the Calgary Dinos was named the outstanding performer in field events, while Peter Millman of Lethbridge earned a pair of awards. (field MVP and Student-Athlete Community Service Award).
The three-day U SPORTS meet, hosted by Alberta for the third time in four years, runs from Thursday to Saturday at the Unviersiade Pavilion.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (FIELD EVENTS): Niki Oudenaarden, Calgary
Niki Oudenaarden becomes the first University of Calgary Dino to be named the U SPORTS Field Athlete of the Year since former Olympian Jessica Zelinka who earned the award in 2007.
After taking off the 2016 season due to extensive surgery to reconstruct her ankle, Oudenaarden returned to the U SPORTS scene with a vengeance. The fourth-year track and field athlete won five medals at the 2017 Canada West Championships in February to earn herself the conference Field Athlete of the Year for the second time in her career, the first time coming in 2015. Oudenaarden won the pentathlon, the high jump and was part of the winning 4x400m relay team. She added two silvers to her collection this season in both the long jump and the shot put.
Oudenaarden has previously competed at the World Youth and World Junior championships, as well as the NACAC and FISU Games. She also competes at nationals yearly.
“Her performance at the Canada West Championships was not unexpected if you know her,” said long-time coach and former University of Calgary DInos head coach Les Gramantik. “Her results, for me, were expected for her to do what she did. Her performance is starting to look Zelinka-like in her capacity to compete in virtually seven events in one day. She is a premiere university athlete right now, not just from here, but for the whole country,”
The other nominees were Jennifer Bell of the Mount Allison Mounties, Ariane Dubois of the Sherbrooke Vert et Or and Kaleigh Hole from the Western Mustangs.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (FIELD EVENTS): Peter Millman, Lethbridge
Peter Millman of the Lethbridge Pronghorns is the 2017 U SPORTS Field Athlete of the Year. Millman becomes the first Pronghorn to win the award since Olympian Jim Steacy, who won the award four times in his Pronghorn career (2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009).
For the fourth consecutive year, the fifth-year thrower swept the throwing events at the Canada West Track and Field Championships and was named the male field performer of the year. In his shot put win, the Truro, N.S., product set a new personal best with a throw of 17.54 metres.
Millman led the Pronghorns to a sweep of the weight throw podium and wrapped up his Canada West career with five consecutive gold medals in the event.
“Not only is it fantastic that Peter was named the outstanding athlete in his final year of eligibility,” said Lethbridge head coach Larry Steinke. “But it's doubly nice when it's a repeat award and shows how he has dominated the throws in U SPORTS competition the last few years.”
The other nominees were Jordan Bruce of the Dalhousie Tigers, Marc-Antoine Lafrenaye-Dugas of the Sherbrooke Vert et Or and Jared Skeath from the Guelph Gryphons.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Peter Millman, Lethbridge
In addition to an exceptional athletic career at the University of Lethbridge, fifth-year thrower Peter Millman has become a true example of what it means to be a student-athlete in Canada.
Athletically he has been a dominant force in the Canada West throw events over his career, winning five Canada West weight throw gold medals and four Canada West shot put gold medals, to go with two U SPORTS shot put golds heading into the final meet of his career.
Since his arrival from Nova Scotia, Millman has entrenched himself in his new community and has been a key member of the Pronghorns student-athlete council. This past year, Millman was heavily involved with the mental health initiatives that have been undertaken across Canadian university athletes. In addition to organizing much of the Bell Let’s talk campaign, he was also one of the Pronghorn athlete ambassadors for the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) and was an integral part of raising over $1000 for SAMHI.
In addition to the mental health initiatives, Millman also volunteers with Lethbridge Family Services, Operation Red Nose and Junior Horns run jump and throw program/
In the classroom, Millman was named an Academic All-Canadian last year and is well on his way to repeating that feat this season with a GPA of 3.85.
“In addition to having a great athletic career, Peter has become a leader for not only the track program but the entire Pronghorn program for what it means to be a student-athlete,” said Steinke. “He has immersed himself in both the university and the southern Alberta community and has been a great ambassador for Pronghorn Athletics.”
The other nominees were Troy Wilson of the UNB Varsity Reds and Antoine Morin of the Montreal Carabins.
2016-2017 U SPORTS TRACK & FIELD AWARDS
Athlete of the Year (track events): Émy Béliveau, Sherbrooke
Athlete of the Year (field events): Niki Oudenaarden, Calgary
Rookie of the Year: Émy Béliveau, Sherbrooke
Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Joy Spear Chief-Morris, Western
Athlete of the Year (track events): Antoine Thibeault, Laval
Athlete of the Year (field events): Peter Millman, Lethbridge
Rookie of the Year: Keysean Powell, Guelph
Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Peter Millman, Lethbridge