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Manitoba male and female athletes of the year honoured

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WINNIPEG — Andrew Harris of Winnipeg, the Canadian Football League running back with the B.C. Lions, and swimmer Chantal VanLandeghem of Winnipeg were named the 2011 Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters male and female athletes of the year on Sunday night at the annual awards dinner at the Delta Winnipeg.

Harris scored an early touchdown in B.C.’s 34-23 victory Grey Cup victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and was named the game’s most outstanding Canadian.

VanLandeghem won five medals at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships.

The Jeff Stoughton curling team from Winnipeg’s Charleswood Curling Club, including Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers, and Steve Gould, won the 2011 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Regina and was chosen as the recipient of the Maurice Smith Memorial trophy as the 2011 provincial team of the year.

Veteran sportswriter Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press was inducted into the MSSA Manitoba Media Roll of Honour for his outstanding service in sports journalism, and his specialty coverage of hockey, golf, and other sports in the province.

The recipient of the Cactus Jack Wells Memorial Award for largest impact on the Manitoba sports scene in 2011 was the Winnipeg Jets and the return of the National Hockey League to Manitoba.

Hector Vergara, the executive director of the Manitoba Soccer Association, earned the Dallis Beck Memorial Good Guy Award, presented for exceptional service to his sport, and major support of the media requirements in the province.

The recipients of the 2012 MSSA Jack Matheson Memorial Awards, established to provide financial support to students who are studying journalism with the goal of working in the sports media were Emily Doer and Andrew Parker, who are bothy enrolled in the joint communications course at Red River College and the University of Winnipeg.

Harris, a graduate of Winnipeg’s Oak Park high school, was the B.C. Lions’ starting tailback in the 2011 season. He led B.C. in rushing with 458 yards and added 395 yards in pass receiving in the regular CFL schedule. In the Western final, he scored two touchdowns. In a tremendous performance in B.C.’s Grey Cup win, he rushed for 65 yards and scored a 19-yard first quarter touchdown.

VanLandeghem won four individual medals and one relay medal at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships. She won silver medals in the 100-metre freestyle and the 4x100-metre freestyle relay, and bronze medals in the 50-metre backstroke, 50-metre freestyle, and 50-metre butterfly events.

Stoughton’s Charleswood foursome won the first Canadian Brier title for Manitoba since his last triumph in 1999, beating Glenn Howard 8-6 in the final. At the 2011 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, the team had a 10-1 round robin record. It posted a 2-0 playoff record beating Scotland’s Tom Brewster 6-5 in the gold medal game. Stoughton and Gould were previous world champions in 1996.

The runner-up for team of the year was the 2011 Telus Cup national male AAA midget hockey champion Winnipeg Thrashers.

The runners-up for the athletes-of-the year were Winnipeg Rifles junior football quarterback Ryan Marsch in the male category and and Canadian triathlon champion Sarah-Anne Brault in the female category.

The Thrashers were the first Winnipeg team to win the Telus Cup Canadian Midget Hockey Championship in its 33-year history, beating the London Knights 3-1 in the final in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Other team finalists were the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who rebounded from a 4-14 season in 2010 to finish first in the CFL East Division, and advanced to the Grey Cup game as Eastern champions; Kelly Robertson’s Canadian senior curling champions, who were unbeaten in the Manitoba playdown, then had an 11-1 record in winning the senior nationals in Digby, Nova Scotia; and the Brandon Bobcats, silver medallists in the 2011 men’s CIS National Volleyball Championship.

In the women’s category, Brault won the Canadian Triathlon Championship in Kelowna, upsetting the favored Paula Findlay (world number three). Brault finished 55 seconds ahead of Findlay, the defending champion, and now has her sights on the London Olympics. The 2009 top Manitoba female athlete Jennifer Saunders won her fourth Canadian singles title in racquetball, and was ranked seventh on the Women’s Pro Tour; hockey star Jocelyne Larocque, a Canadian National team member and an NCAA first team all-American at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, was the top scoring defenceman in her conference; and Manitoba Bison assistant soccer coach Desiree Scott was selected to play for Team Canada in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympic playdown.

Ryan Marsch of the Winnipeg Rifles won the Peter Dalla Riva Award as the Canadian Junior Football League’s offensive Player of the Year. He led the Prairie Fooball Conference in passing with a record 3,030 Yards. Other male finalists were Doug Brown, who was named to the CFL East Division all-star team for the sixth straight year and the eighth time in what could have been the last season of his career; ten-pin bowler Mike Schmidt, who qualified for the fifth time to represent Canada in the Qubica AMF Bowling World Cup; and last year’s winner Jonathan Toews, who led the Chicago Blackhawks in scoring with 32 goals and 44 assists playing in 80 regular season NHL games in 2010-11.

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