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Jonathan Senecal, Audrey Leduc named Canada’s top university sport athletes

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CALGARY – University of Montreal quarterback Jonathan Senecal and Laval sprinter Audrey Leduc were named Canada’s U Sports athletes of the year Monday.

They were chosen from eight nominees, four of each gender, from each of the four university conferences.

In addition to leading the Carabins to a 2023 Vanier Cup title, Senecal was named MVP of that game and earned Hec Crighton Trophy as the top football player in Canadian university sport.

The 24-year-old from Mirabel, Que., was just the second player to claim all three football trophies after Calgary’s Don Blair in 1995.

Leduc was the fastest Canadian woman in the 60 metres this year and went unbeaten in that distance en route to a national title in March.

The 25-year-old from Gatineau, Que., went on to set Canadian records in the women’s 100 and 200 metres in the last two months.

She erased the 100-metre record that had stood for 37 years with a time of 10.96 seconds.

University of New Brunswick hockey player Austen Keating, Guelph runner Max Davies and Alberta volleyball playerIsaac Heslinga joined Senecal as finalists for male athlete of the year.

Other finalists for the female award were UNB basketball player Jayda Veinot, Brock volleyball player Sara Rohr and University of British Columbia soccer player Katalin Tolnai.

The winners were announced at the Lois and Doug Mitchell U Sport Athlete of the Year Awards.

The top U Sports male and female athletes have been recognized since 1993 when former CFL player and commissioner and UBC football alum Doug Mitchell founded the awards. Mitchell died in 2022 at the age of 83.

His wife Lois Mitchell, who was Alberta’s lieutenant-governor from 2015 to 2020, has continued their joint sponsorship of the honours previously called the Howard Mackie Awards, BLG Awards and Lieutenant Governor Athletics Awards.

No winners were announced in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 winners were University of Toronto swimmer Gabriel Mastromatteo and McMaster basketball player Sarah Gates.

The 2022 recipients were Edmonton Elks quarterback Tre Ford (Waterloo) and Canadian women’s team rugby player Sophie de Goede (Queen’s).

Previous winners also include CFL players Blair, Jesse Lumsden and Andrew Buckley as well as Olympic swimmer Kylie Masse, heptathlete Jessica Zelinka and hockey player Kim St. Pierre.

The trustees of the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board founded 31 years ago by Doug Mitchell, vote for the winners.

U Sports is one of the largest sports leagues in Canada with student-athletes playing varsity sports in 57 Canadian universities from Victoria to St. John’s, N.L.

Leduc and Senecal were presented with trophies and a $5,000 scholarship for postgraduate studies at a Canadian university.

“Audrey and Jonathan had outstanding seasons, demonstrating their adaptability to any condition they have faced on the field of competition and in the classroom,” Lois Mitchell said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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