Before an audience of over 1000 attendees at the Vancouver Convention Centre on a brilliant, sunny day in Coal Harbour, UBC track and field athletes were honoured with several major UBC awards at the UBC Big Block Awards last night.
BOBBY GAUL MEMORIAL TROPHY – Graduating Male Athlete of the Year
Track and field and cross country star Luc Bruchet was named the school's Graduating Male Athlete of the Year and the winner of the Bobby Gaul Memorial Trophy. The White Rock, B.C., native, whose university career ended in the summer of 2014, became the first athlete to ever win all three of UBC's major men's awards (Male Rookie of the Year, the 'Bus' Phillips Memorial Trophy for Male Athlete of the Year and the Bobby Gaul Memorial Trophy).
Bruchet ran the first sub-four-minute indoor mile in UBC history in February of 2014 and set a school record in the indoor 3,000 metres the month before. Another highlight in his final track season was his participation in the 3,000 at the prestigious New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston.
He was an NAIA All-American in each of his four seasons running cross country and middle distance on the track for UBC. Bruchet won a dramatic NAIA national title in the 1,500 in 2013 and earned the senior national cross country championship that same year. Internationally, he has competed for Canada at the World Cross Country Championships and World University Games
MARILYN POMFRET TROPHY – Female Athlete of the Year
Cross country and track and field runner Maria Bernard (Calgary) captured the Marilyn Pomfret Trophy as UBC's Female Athlete of the Year.
Catching Bernard is easier said than done. Last spring, she led the women's track and field team to a third-place finish at the NAIA national meet, winning the 3000-metre steeplechase and helping UBC win gold in the 4x800-metre relay. This past fall, she paced the Thunderbirds to a third straight NAIA cross country team championship, winning the individual title in the process. Bernard was an NAIA All-American in both track and field and cross country as well as an Academic All-Canadian.
DU VIVIER TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD, PRESENTED BY FREEDOM 55
Two UBC national-championship squads, women's cross country and men's swimming, shared the du Vivier Team of the Year Award, presented by Freedom 55.
After winning the A.I.I. conference championship, the women's cross country team raced to its third consecutive NAIA national title, with five of its seven runners earning All-American honours along the way. Bernard, Amelie de Fenoyl (Toronto) and Natalia Hawthorn (Bracebridge, Ont.) finished first, third and fourth, respectively, in the individual competition, ensuring another dominant Thunderbirds victory.
UBC men's swimming regained its place atop the CIS, claiming first at the national meet in convincing fashion, recording the second-highest point total in CIS history. As well, the men won their second straight Canada West championship title setting a new league record for most points scored.
The UBC Department of Athletics and Recreation also recognized two long-time coaches at the Tuesday banquet for their service. Marek Jedrzejek of cross country and track and field and former men's rugby head coach and director Spence McTavish were both honoured with plaques for their decades of dedication to Thunderbirds athletes.
Marek has been at UBC since 1987, first as head coach of the cross country team before adding head coach of the track & field squad to his portfolio in 2001.
He has developed both teams into perennial top 10 teams in the NAIA and is coming off his best season ever in 2013-14. In cross country the UBC women won its second straight NAIA Women's Cross Country National Championship, while the menfinished in eighth place. At the 2014 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the Thunderbirds combined to 12 medals (5 gold, 5 sivler, 2 bronze). The women finished third overall, their first finish ever, while the men finished in fifth place.
Jedrzejek is a three-time NAIA women's cross country coach of the year (2012, 2013 & 2014).
In addition to their more recent NAIA success, Jedrzejek led the 'Birds to a CIS title in cross country in 1993 when he was named the coach of the year.
Jedrzejek has been involved at every level of international competition, coaching at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, acting as Canadian head coach at six Cross Country World Championships, three FISU Games, and is the former Athletics Canada off-track coordinator for cross country and road running.
His athletes have also had success at every level, winning medals at FISU, Commonwealth, and Pan-Am Games throughout his career. He has coached athletes to nine Canadian records, including Jeff Schiebler who still holds two Canadians records in the 5000m and 10000m and Liz Gleadle who owns the women's javelin mark. His athletes have won 33 national titles and he has coached 18 BC high school champions.
KAY BREARLEY SERVICE AWARD – Service to women's athletics
The Kay Brearley Service Award was presented to cross country and track and field assistant coach Jennifer Schutz, who has volunteered with UBC for the past 14 years. She has spent countless hours helping coordinate travel, recruiting and training camps. During her tenure, the women's cross country team has had six top-three finishes at the NAIA championships, including winning the last three national titles as well as three podium finishes at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.