Saints honor athletic achievements in return to traditional awards banquet

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A little over two years later, the St. Clair College Saints returned to a traditional awards banquet on Wednesday.

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Normally held in April and not staged since 2019, more than 200 people attended the 53rd event at the St. Clair Center for the Arts.

“We delayed it a little to try and get to some sort of normalcy, so it’s a traditional awards banquet,” said St.Clair’s Ron Seguin, who is vice-president of international relations, campus development and student services.

And for a season where so much attention was given to prevent the spread of COVID-19, St. Clair had plenty to celebrate.

The Saints secured 10 provincial medals while boasting three podium finishes at nationals and hosted four conference championships in a 2021-22 campaign where many sports were playing with limited practice time and a reduced schedule.

“With so much focus on risk mediation, COVID and testing, it kind of dominated your mind,” Seguin said. “(It’s) being called the most successful year in school history.”

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It was also time to bid farewell to two of the biggest award winners at the event in Jana Kucera, from women’s basketball, and David Gomez Jr., from men’s basketball. Kucera was the women’s winner of the Mason MacDonald Award as female athlete of the year while Gomez Jr. claimed the award on the men’s side, which is awarded to graduating athletes.

“Looking back at four years, they were successful,” Kucera said.

Kucera guided the Saints to three-straight silver medal at the OCAA championships. She was a West Division first-team all-star this past season, made the championship all-star team and was All-Academic at the conference and national level.

“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like without her,” Seguin said. “She was that dominant and central of a figure here. What an amazing career.”

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The Saints blazed a new trail in getting Gomez Jr. to campus from Michigan and he was the building block of great hope that was realized this season.

“It was a very good experience and I’m glad I came out here,” Gomez Jr. said. “I had a lot of great memories here.”

Gomez Jr. became just the third St. Clair men’s basketball player ever to be named All-Canadian. He guided the team to a silver medal at the OCAA championship and helped the Saints to the school’s first-ever medal at nationals with a silver-medal effort while leading the tournament in scoring with an average of 28 points per game.

“David changed the direction of men’s basketball and we came closer to winning a national champ sooner than we thought,” Seguin said.

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The Al Hoffman athlete of the year for outstanding achievement when to Amy Claydon, on the women’s side, and Tyler Jones, on the men’s side.

A fourth-year player, Claydon was the OCAA player of the year in softball and helped to a silver medal at the conference level and a silver medal at the national level. She was a tournament all-star at both of those events while also being named a conference all-star for regular-season play.

Also a fourth-year player, Jones earned All-Ontario honors after taking a silver medal at the OCAA cross-country championships. He helped the Saints to a silver medal at the conference championship and a bronze medal at the national championship while earning All-Canadian honours.

The Gerald Serviss Inter-Collegiate coach of the year award went to men’s basketball co-coaches Brendon Seguin and Matt Sykes.

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Completing his eighth season with the women’s softball team, assistant coach Alex Wiseman captured the John Albert Strasser Award for his contributions to the team and community while photographer Gerry Marentette won the Jack Costello Exceptional Service Award for his commitment to the department of athletics and recreation.

Keirsten Tomkins, from women’s basketball, and Jalen Harmon, from men’s basketball, won the Fair Play and Sportsmanship Award in honor of Bob Weepers while the women’s volleyball team took the Academic Award for the highest grade-point average at 3.43.

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