Another season of Lightning athletics has come to an end, marking the perfect time to look back and reflect on, and celebrate the accomplishments of our student-athletes at St. Mary’s.
“To compete at the post-secondary level at any sport is among one of the most challenging things to do and why only a select few can have success,” said Lightning men’s basketball coach Nathan Ruff.
“Our student-athletes have to be experts in time management, self-motivation and above all have the work ethic to outperform whomever they face. We are proud of all of our athletes and commend them on their great successes this year.”
Cross Country running saw a major growth in their numbers this year and for the first time in their short ACAC tenure had full men’s and women’s teams. Each race saw our runners improve on their own personal best times culminating in the provincial championship meet in Grand Prairie where the Lightning cross-country teams finished the best they had ever finished this season with the men finishing in 5th place in the ACAC and the Women in 7th.
This year St. Mary’s qualified two runners, Matt Mundy (10th place) and Karan Matusin (8th Place), to compete and represent St. Mary’s and the ACAC at Nationals. Matt and Karan along with Head Coach Donna Dixon made their way to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. for the Championship where Karan, at his first national event, was the Lightning’s best finisher placing 60th out of 102 runners, while Matt Mundy placed 70th.
Cross-Country took a major stride this year in becoming a contending force in the ACAC for years to come, with the relentless hard work of coaches Donna Dixon and Chris Coy the future is bright for our StMU runners.
It is an exciting time for the running program as we are awaiting full-time acceptance from the ACAC for our new Indoor Track team for next season which will be coached by Donna Dixon and Chris Coy. Runners will now have the opportunity to compete in both semesters on the cross-country team and now the indoor track team.
Men’s basketball saw a change of the guard this season. With head coach Nathan Ruff marking the 3rd head coach in the short five-year tenure in the ACAC for the men’s program.
With only four returning players from last season’s squad, this was the true definition of rebuilding year, and laying the ground work for future success was the goal. The addition of some great young players and the beginning of an excellent core group of players will help set the Lightning up for success moving forward.
With a young inexperienced group the men saw some ups and downs this season but significantly improved from start to finish. The second semester the Lighting regained a couple of key players who reinstated their eligibility and also saw a key player return from injury.
In the first weekend of the second semester the men swept their opponent giving them the first two season wins of the campaign. Consistency and Chemistry for this young group saw them falter over the next weeks, surrendering leads on the now ACAC champion SAIT Trojans in the final stretches of each of their games, along with losing some tight games against the Ambrose Lions and Briercrest Clippers.
The final home game of the season saw the Lightning finally put a complete game together and showcase what is to come.
The Lightning men played a complete game as a team in an excellent battle against the now silver medalist Lethbridge Kodiaks. Walking away with a much needed victory it is clear to see the Lightning men can compete with the best this league has to offer and the players and coaches are eager and hungry to show the league and fans who they, and what they can do, next season.
Led by first team all-conference player Montana Romeril and second team all-conference forward MJ Ritchie, the Lightning women’s basketball team continued to showcase their excellent program. The Lightning women have now become one of the most winning post-secondary programs in the Calgary area over the last few years. The women had an excellent season finishing the regular season with 16 wins and just 5 losses to capture the 2nd seed in the ACAC playoffs.
The women had a couple of standout moments this season, most notably, the team converted on 17 3-point attempts tying an ACAC record for most 3’s hit in a single game. An amazing individual achievement also came this season as MJ Ritchie broke the all-time ACAC rebounding record previously held by Maia de Klerk from King’s College since 2009.
MJ a 5th year senior finished her career with 921 rebounds, a number that should stand for quite a few years to come.
In playoffs this year the women were challenged and pushed hard but their outstanding character showed through making it to the ACAC championship game for the second consecutive year. The women fell short to the Lethbridge Kodiaks who were crowned national champions with an impressive and historic undefeated season.
Coach Shoults and his women have built a power house basketball program that we can all be proud of and though the ladies say goodbye to two fifth-year starters, Laura Belisle and MJ Ritchie, they have built such an outstanding program that should continue to thrive in the ACAC.