Mustangs celebrate top student-athletes

Soccer player Jenna White, football player Alex Taylor and swimmer Gamal Assaad were recognized for their outstanding careers Tuesday night at the Western Mustangs Athletic Awards Gala.

Soccer player Jenna White, football player Alex Taylor and swimmer Gamal Assaad were recognized for their outstanding careers Tuesday night at the Western Mustangs Athletic Awards Gala.

White wrapped up her five-year Mustangs career as the 62nd F.W.P. Jones Trophy winner, while Taylor and Assaad were named co-winners of the 79th Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy. Both awards are presented to an athlete judged to have made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics during their time at Western.

Over the past five seasons, few players have made the impact White has on the soccer field, helping Western claim three Ontario University Athletics (OUA) silver medals, one bronze and earned a spot in the national championship three times in her Mustangs career.

Along with her team success, she started things off with OUA West and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours in 2013, while also earning OUA First Team All-Star status. White earned a spot on the OUA West All-Star team in each of her five seasons and, twice, named a U SPORTS All-Canadian.

Taylor and Assaad were named co-winners of the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy, marking the first time since the 2010-11 season that two student-athletes were chosen for the honour.

Assaad has had an outstanding career at Western capturing 18 medals at the OUA championships, along with another five at the U SPORTS championships. Along with his success as a Mustang, Assaad has represented Canada at both the Pan Pacific Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

Throughout the past four seasons, Taylor has emerged as the top running back in Canadian university football, and has been named an OUA All-Star and U SPORTS All-Canadian in each of the past three seasons. He is the second all-time leading rusher in Western history with 3,106 regular season yards, and is first in Mustangs history with an astounding 8.5 yards per carry. He was a driving force on this year’s undefeated championship team, including rushing for 150 yards in the Mustangs Vanier Cup victory in November.

Along with the Brown and Jones trophies, two Mustangs were selected as the Female and Male Athletes of the Year.

Larissa Werbicki claimed Female Athlete of the Year Award after a phenomenal year on the Mustangs women’s rowing team.

Since arriving at Western, Werbicki has been absolutely dominant, becoming the first female athlete in the 18-year history of the Canadian University Rowing Championships to win all three lightweight women’s events in the same year.

She helped lead the Mustangs to both an OUA Championship and National Championship, where she was also honoured as Oarswoman of the Year.

Receiving the Male Athlete of the Year Award was football player Jean-Gabriel Poulin.

Key to a Mustangs defence that was arguably the most dominant unit in the country this season, the middle linebacker racked up 37 tackles and 2.5 sacks during eight regular season games to earn both First Team All-Star and First Team All-Canadian honours.

A leader both on and off the field, Poulin was crucial in guiding the team to an undefeated season, as the Mustangs galloped through the playoffs and captured the 31st Yates Cup and seventh Vanier Cup in program history.

Fourteen Purple Blanket Awards, given to student-athletes (usually in their graduating year) judged to have made an outstanding contribution to Western athletics, were also handed out, with six going to major award nominees Pearson, Case, Taylor, Assaad, Pelletier, and Poulin.

Other Purple Blanket winners included volleyball’s Aja Gyimah; rowers Reid Vassallo and Marilyse Dubois; football’s Nick Vanin; softball’s Rachael Jacques; volleyball’s Kat Tsiofas; rugby’s Peter Milazzo; and basketball’s Mackenzie Puklicz.

Team MVPs were honoured as well, including:

Men’s Badminton: Jack Hall

Women’s Badminton: Cara de Belle

Baseball: Matt Bowden

Men’s Basketball: Marko Kovac

Women’s Basketball: Mackenzie Puklicz

Men’s Cross Country: Ben Carson

Women’s Cross Country: Kristina Popadich

Men’s Curling: Ryan Thompson-Brown

Women’s Curling: Carolyne Graham

Men’s Fencing: John Huang

Women’s Fencing: Victoria Edwards

Field Hockey: Marielle Fernback

Figure Skating: Denis Margalik

Football: Jean-Gabriel Poulin

Men’s Golf: Mac Carter

Women’s Golf: Tasha Macdonald

Men’s Hockey: Luke Peressini

Women’s Hockey: Evra Levesque

Men’s Lacrosse: Jackson Rakoczy

Women’s Lacrosse: Hayley Liske

Ringette: Hailie Pavanel

Men’s Rowing: Reid Vassallo

Women’s Rowing: Larissa Werbicki

Men’s Rugby: Mike Coldwells

Women’s Rugby: Arielle Dubisette-Borrice

Men’s Soccer: Kody Thomson

Women’s Soccer: Julia Crnjac

Softball: Rachael Jacques

Men’s Squash: David Mill

Women’s Squash: Lindsey Smith

Men’s Swimming: Matt Loewen

Women’s Swimming: Charis Huddle

Men’s Table Tennis: Aaron Bo-Yun Hsueh

Women’s Table Tennis: Helen Qiu

Men’s Tennis: Mark Jensen

Women’s Tennis: Helen He

Men’s Track and Field: Daniel Gleason

Women’s Track and Field: Caroline Stricelj

Men’s Ultimate Frisbee: Neal McKinnon

Women’s Ultimate Frisbee: Katherine Fraser

Men’s Volleyball: Chris Newcombe

Women’s Volleyball: Kelsey Veltman

Water Polo: Maksym Koval

Men’s Wrestling: Brayden Ambo

Women’s Wrestling: Michalia Walls