Karan Matusin and MJ Ritchie are the 2016/17 St. Mary’s Lightning Male and Female Athletes of the year.

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The two athletes were honoured at the St. Mary’s Lightning Annual Awards Banquet on April 6 at McGivney Hall on the St. Mary’s Campus. Each year, the awards are handed out to the athletes who best exemplify what it means to be a member of the St. Mary’s Lightning, athletes who are ambassadors for their sport and role models in their community.

“The banquet is a great opportunity for all of our athletic teams to come together as one group for one last time,” said Interim Sports Manager and Lightning men’s basketball head Coach Nathan Ruff. “It’s a special event where the athletes get to stray away from their normal athletic wear and dress up and perhaps be seen in a different light.”

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“The night was a great success, made possible by the amazing support from the St. Mary’s community.”

Ritchie, a Bachelor of Education student from Calgary, AB, earns the recognition following her final season with the Lightning women’s basketball program. For her outstanding play this year, Ritchie was also named to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference’s (ACAC) All-Conference Second Team.

Her final season also saw Ritchie lead the Lightning to the ACAC’s silver medal for the second time in as many seasons. Ritchie also broke the ACAC record for career rebounds, finishing her career with a total of 921 rebounds.

“MJ has been a team captain during her three years at St. Mary’s and has played a significant role in helping turn the program around,” said Lightning women’s head Coach Steve Shoults. “She has been a constant player the coaches can depend on. She has limitless desire to be great, on and off the court and this rubs off on her teammates.”

Matusin’s selection comes in his first year of competition for the Lightning where the General Studies student from Calgary, AB had an excellent season. Matusin led the Lightning cross-country team to provincials, where he would finish in eighth position and subsequently qualify for a spot in the National Championships. His 60th place finish was the best finish by a St. Mary’s athlete in the short history of the cross-country program.

Hassall nabs Lightning of the Year Award
Men’s basketball standout Brad Hassall (3rd year, General Studies, Melbourne, New South Wales) captured the Lightning of the Year award. This award is given to the Lightning athlete who encompasses community service, volunteering, academics and athletics.

Cross-Country program runs away with Team Academic Award
It was a big night for the Lightning cross-country program, not only was a member of the men’s team selected as the winner for athlete of the year, the team combined to win the Team Academic Award based on a team’s overall GPA. Every season, the registrar combines the averages of all athletes on their respective teams and the winner is based on the highest grade point average.

Other awards handed out included:

Most Improved Runner (cross-country)
Logan Pearce (2nd year, General Studies, Calgary, AB)

Lightning Award (cross-country)
Randi Thiessen (2nd year, Bachelor of Education (Elementary), Okotoks, AB)

Most Outstanding Female Runner (cross-country)
Brooke Whitaker (5th year, Liberal Arts, Calgary, AB)

Most Outstanding Male Runner (cross-country)
Karan Matusin (1st year, General Studies, Calgary, AB)

Most Improved Player of Year (women’s basketball)
Megan Trisevic (4th year, General Studies, Calgary, AB)

Lightning Award (women’s basketball)
Laura Belisle (5th year, General Studies, Calgary, AB)

Most Outstanding Women’s Basketball Player (women’s basketball)
Montana Romeril (4th year, History, Calgary, AB)

Most Improved Player (men’s basketball)
Josh Matosevic (1st year, Liberal Studies, Calgary, AB)

Lightning Award (men’s basketball)
Garrett Kawa (3rd year, Biological Sciences, Lethbridge, AB)

Most Valuable Player (men’s basketball)
Jordan Britton (1st year, Psychology, Drumheller, AB)

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