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Harris romps to repeat as MSSA’s top male athlete

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B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris was named Manitoba’s male athlete of the year for 2012 on Jan. 27 at the Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association 57th annual athletes of the year dinner. Harris also won in 2011 and he is the first repeat winner since golfer Rob McMillan took the honour in 1992 and again in 1993. The graduate of Oak Park High School led the CFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,830 including 1,112 yards rushing. He scored 11 touchdowns.

Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans, the WHL player of the year for 2011-12, placed second in the balloting by 40 members of the media from across the province. He scored 58 goals and added 76 assists for a league-leading 134 points and his point total was the highest in the WHL since 1998-99.

Also nominated was Joey Johnson of Team Canada’s wheelchair basketball team, gold medal winners at the Paralympic Games in London. Johnson had eight points and four rebounds in Canada’s 64-58 victory over defending champion Australia.

U of M Bison volleyball star Dane Pischke, a first-team CIS All Canadian, was another finalist, as was Josh Wytinck, Manitoba’s amateur golfer of the year. Wytinck won the Nott Autocorp provincial championship and captained the Manitoba Bisons golf team, winners of five tournaments last season.

Desiree Scott, midfield star of Canada’s Olympic bronze medal winning soccer team and former Manitoba Bison, was chosen as the province’s female athlete of the year for 2012. The veteran of 53 games for Canada blocked a shot on the goal line late in the game to preserve Canada’s 1-0 semi-final win over France. She was also named player of the match in Canada’s 2-2 tie with Sweden.

The runner-up was Janine Hanson of rowing who earned a silver medal as a member of the Canada’s eights team that placed second at the London Olympics.

Hockey player Jocelyne Larocque was a finalist for the second consecutive year. She was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning team at the World Women’s Championship. She was also a silver medallist at the Four Nations Cup. Jennifer Saunders, a perennial standout in her sport, was a contender after winning both the singles and doubles events in national women’s racquetball championships. She also won a bronze medal for Canada at the World Championship team event in the Dominican Republic.  Wheelchair track athlete Michelle Stilwell was the gold medallist in the 200 metres and won a silver at 100 metres at the London Paralympic Games.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team was named team of the year and winner of the Maurice Smith Memorial Award. Led by MVP Amos Ramon, the Goldeyes won six straight playoff games over Fargo and Wichita to take the American Association title.

It was the first professional sports championship to come to Winnipeg since the Goldeyes won the Northern League crown in 1994.

Also nominated were two hockey teams that won national championships. The Pembina Valley Hawks women’s team downed Thunder Bay Queens 4-2 in the midget final in Charlottetown and the South East Prairie Thunder senior men’s squad won the Allan Cup in Lloydminster, Sask. The Thunder defeated Rosetown 4-1 in the Canadian final. Rounding out the slate were the FC Northwest under-18 men’s soccer team that defeated Ontario’s Erin Mills Eagles in the national final and the Kelly Robertson senior men’s curling team. The Robertson team, which included Doug Armour, Peter Prokopowich and Bob Scales, won its second straight Manitoba senior title and finished second at the World Championship in Copenhagen.

The evening was big one for the Goldeyes organization. The team also won the Cactus Jack Wells Memorial Award for having the biggest impact on the Manitoba sports scene in 2012.

The team’s long-time radio voice, Paul Edmonds, was introduced as the newest member of the MSSA Media Roll of Honour. Edmonds has been broadcasting Goldeyes games since the initial season in 1994 and his calls such as "Fish win, Fish win, Fish win," and "Look up, pucker up, and kiss it goodbye" have become part of the local baseball lexicon.

The 2012 winner of the MSSA Dallis Beck Good Guy/Good Gal Award for exceptional support to the media wasn’t at the dinner. Instead, Morris Glimcher was in Sweden managing the Canadian men’s team at the world bandy championships. On Jan. 26, Team Canada lost 4-2 to the USA in the B pool final.  Mo is better known as the long-time executive director of the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association which celebrates its 50th anniversary in the 2012-13 school year. It was the perfect time for the MSSA to recognize him for his media relations work.

Each year the MSSA presents Jack Matheson Memorial Awards to students pursuing careers in the sports media. This year the selection committee of MSSA president Keith Borkowsky, Winnipeg Sun sportswriter Kirk Penton and sports columnist Terry Frey of The Carillon in Steinbach determined there were three worthy recipients. Andrew Evans, who is studying journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, has worked as a summer intern at the Winnipeg Free Press and on The Score TV network. Ian Froese of Grunthal is in the third year of a journalism program at King’s College in Halifax . Work at CBC radio, the Dalhousie Gazette and The Carillon are part of his resume. Ryan Kessler is enrolled in the joint communications program at Red River College and the University of Winnipeg. He has produced a Shaw TV feature on former Winnipeg Jets goalie Joe Daley and written several articles about hockey. Each received $750, a plaque and a 2013 MSSA membership.  

A crowd of around 200 attended the dinner at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. 

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