UBC, U of T building dynasties at U Sports swimming championships

U Sports championship season is officially underway with swimming and wrestling seasons wrapping up over the weekend.

U of Alberta takes a bite out of Brock's dominance at wrestling championships

A group of men's swimmers alongside two coaches stand behind a championship banner, raising their arms in celebration.
The University of British Columbia men's swimming team celebrates winning gold at the 2023 U Sports Swimming Championships in Victoria, B.C., on Sunday, the sixth consecutive national championship event that the Thunderbirds have won. (

U Sports championship season is officially underway with swimming and wrestling seasons wrapping up over the weekend.

Over the next month, various athletes around the country will be capping their seasons with championship weekend events in track and field and basketball (March 9-12), along with curling, volleyball and ice hockey (March 15-19).

All events will be streamed live on, CBC Gem and the free CBC Sports app.

But for now, we turn our attention into the pool, and onto the mats.

The U Sports swimming championships were held in Victoria, B.C., from Thursday to Saturday, with a men's team dynasty continuing on in the form of the University of British Columbia winning their sixth consecutive title, and a women's dynasty being born with the University of Toronto winning their second straight U Sports championship.

Twenty-two schools took part in the men's competition at Saanich Commonwealth Place, with the University of Calgary trailing UBC in the final standings, 1158.5-876, to take silver, while the University of Ottawa took bronze with 795 points.

The U of T edged out UBC on the women's side ,1,336-1166.5, in a pool of 19 teams, with McGill earning third-place with 872 points.

The Varsity Blues were neck-and-neck with UBC in the women's competition all weekend, with Toronto leading by just 42.5 points after the first day, and 17.5 points after the second day.

The most dramatic moment for U of T on the final day of competition was Ainsley McMurray edging out the University of Calgary's Rebecca Smith by 0.02 seconds in the 100-metre freestyle.

The Montreal native closed out the event alongside Lily Chubaty, Teagan Vander Leek and Aleksa Gold to take gold in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay.

Gold also lived up to her name in the 200m backstroke, edging teammate Haley Klenk by 0.02 seconds.

Overall, the Varsity Blues finished with 19 medals (six gold, six silver, seven bronze), with McMurray leading the way with two individual gold medals in the 50m and 100m freestyle events.

Gold (gold in the 200m backstroke, silver in the 400m individual medley and 50m freestyle, and bronze in the 100m backstroke) and Klenk (gold in the 50m backstroke, silver in the 100m and 200m backstroke, and bronze in the 200m individual medley) led Toronto with four individual medals apiece.

While the Toronto men's team finished fourth, Gabe Mastromatteo was the standout performer of the event — along with taking Outstanding Male Swimmer of the Year honours — winning the 50m breaststroke with a U Sports record-breaking time of 27.53 seconds on the first night, then following it up the next night with another U Sports record time of one minute 1.38 in the 100m breaststroke.

Langley B.C., native Hugh McNeill was dominant all weekend for UBC, collecting four gold medals, as well as a silver medal in the 400m individual medley.

The sophomore won gold in both the 100m and 200m backstroke, and was part of the gold-medal winning relay teams in the 4x100m medley and 4x200m medley.

The Thunderbirds won seven gold medals overall, adding five silvers and five bronze medals to cap their first-place performance.

U of Alberta disrupts Brock's wrestling supremacy

After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U Sports wrestling championships took place at the Van Vliet Complex in Edmonton on Friday and Saturday.

The three-year break did nothing to stop the Brock Badgers men's team's run of eight straight U Sports championships — a streak bested only by the 1999 to 2008 Badgers' dynasty that included 10 straight titles.

On the women's side, however, Brock's streak of nine straight titles came to a halt at the hands of the host University of Alberta Pandas, who topped the silver-medal winning Badgers and the McMaster Marauders on the podium.

The Alberta Golden Bears found their way onto the men's podium as well with a bronze medal, just behind McMaster.

Freshman phenom Carlos Vargas was dominant in the men's 68kg for Brock, failing to concede a single point in any of his four matches, including his gold-medal winning match against Cole Sanderson of the Saskatchewan Huskies.

Fourth-year Bobby Narwal — the captain of the Brock men's team — equalled his younger teammate with a 4-0 record in his matches, earning a clean sheet with a 10-0 victory over Brantley Saar of the Calgary Dinos for gold.

Max Budgey (76kg), Jordan Wylie (82kg) and Roger Li (125kg) all won silver medals, while Gabe Blanchette (65kg) contributed a silver to the Badgers' medal haul of six out of the 10 events.

Third-year Alex Moore of the Concordia Stingers won Male Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Year after taking down Howard Moffat of McMaster for gold in the 90kg, joining two other teammates that topped the podium in Connor Church (76kg) and Jeremy Poirier (100kg).

While Brock sophomore Mia Friesen won Female Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Year after earning gold in the 56kg category, Alberta's depth prevailed, earning a medal in seven of the nine total women's events.

Head coach Owen Dawkins' squad was the top-ranked school wire-to-wire this season, and backed that ranking up with three gold-medal winning performances.

Fifth-year Taylor McPherson topped Sierra Mullin of Saskatchewan in the 50kg competition, third-year Katie Mulkay took down Concordia's Amanda Savard in the 67kg class, and fourth-year Andrea Franko won gold over Alexia Sherland — also of Concordia — in the 70kg.

Vianne Rouleau, a sophomore that entered the event as the top-ranked wrestler in the 76kg class, earned silver after falling to Brock's Shauna Kuebeck in the final — a result that the fifth-year also earned at the 2020 U Sports Championship.

Aleah Nickel added a silver for Alberta in the 63kg after finishing behind Concordia's Laurence Beauregard, while Jenna Petryna (53kg) and Amy Bell (59kg) buoyed the Pandas' medal total with a pair of bronzes.

This marks the second U Sports gold for 2023 Female Team Coach of the Year recipient Dawkins, who also led the Pandas to gold in 2011, the year before Brock's streak of nine straight titles began.

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