Kodiaks bringing home the Gold at ACAC Championships

Three Lethbridge College Kodiaks teams brought home provincial gold the last two weeks in competitions that showcased both talent and teamwork. Last weekend, both the women’s and men’s basketball teams won their provincial championships during the Alberta College’s Athletic Conference (ACAC) basketball tournaments while the men’s indoor track team won at the Running Room ACAC Indoor Track Championships the previous weekend. The basketball teams will represent the college and province at national championships later this month.

“It’s been an amazing two weeks for Kodiaks Athletics,” says Lethbridge College Manager, Athletics, Residence and PE Operations Todd Caughlin. “I’m very proud of our coaching staff and student athletes and the continued support from college administration and community. Kodiaks student athletes are representing Lethbridge College in a national spotlight and we are sending amazing representatives to show the country how we ‘Get our growl on!’ ”

The Kodiaks women’s basketball team had been ranked as high as third in the nation this season and were 22-2 in the ACAC heading into the playoffs in Edmonton. They dispatched the Keyano Huskies and Olds Broncos in their first two games before facing the SAIT Trojans on Saturday when they trounced their rivals 61-40. This is the twelfth time the Lethbridge College Kodiaks have claimed the ACAC Women’s Basketball Championship title.

The Kodiaks men’s basketball team was ranked 11th in the nation and second in the south division heading into provincials. They made it through a straightforward first round against the Lakeland Rustlers before winning a thrilling semi-final match in double overtime against the Olds Broncos. In the final match on Saturday in Fort McMurray, the team dominated the Medicine Hat Rattlers and won 87-68. This is the 10th ACAC Championship the men’s basketball team has won in the college’s history.

While it is rare in the ACAC for both a men’s and women’s team from the same institution to win the provincial championships in the same year, this is the second time for the Kodiaks. The last time they achieved this honour was during the 1993-94 season. The Lethbridge College Kodiaks are the first school to accomplish this sweep since Mount Royal in the 1996-97 season.

Kodiaks basketball also received the most awards during the ACAC banquets with four athletes named as First Team All-Conference players including Chris Maughan, Chaz Johnson, Ali Cameron, and Emma Lowry. Travis Butt was named as Second Team All-Conference Player.

Cameron, ranked first in the ACAC South Division averaging 22.42 points per game, was honoured as the 2014-15 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year. She was also named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) with 13 points, five rebounds, and four steals in the finals. Lowry was named Tournament All-Star with 16 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists in the final and Sunder West was named the ACAC Rookie of the Year in the South Division. On the men’s side, Johnson was recognized as Tournament’s MVP with a game high of 26 points in the finals, averaging 13.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Maughan was named a Tournament All Star averaging 15.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. 

Lethbridge College Kodiaks women’s basketball coach Brad Karren was recognized as the ACAC Coach of the Year in the South Division.

“We’ve worked hard all season toward earning an ACAC title and I feel the girls dedicated themselves all season long and are now seeing the hard work pay off with a trip to nationals,” says Karren. “The coaching award was great, but this is about the girls and what they have earned – I’m very proud of the team!”

Ryan Heggie has coached the Kodiaks men’s basketball team for four seasons.

Both Kodiaks basketball teams will play in the 2015 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Basketball National Championships taking place March 18 to 21. The women, who are seeded third, will head to Nanaimo, B.C., while the men, who are seeded seventh, are off to Hamilton, Ont.

The men’s indoor track team defended its ACAC indoor title the previous weekend in Edmonton, earning 139 points as a team and capturing all seven of the indoor track men’s events at provincials. Alex Harding earned the ACAC Runner of the Year award with Overall Grand Prix honours after winning the 1,000, 1,500, and 3,000 metre distances. Alex Andres took the 300 and 600 metre races and also received Grand Prix honours. Harding and Andres joined Evan Brown and Boaz Korir to win the 4 by 400 relay event.

The Kodiaks men also won three silver and two bronze medals in addition to their first place wins. The Kodiaks women’s team won one gold medal during the women’s competition with Caylee Vogel placing first in the 300 metre race and the women’s team finished third overall.

The Kodiaks indoor track coach Bertil Johansson has coached the Kodiaks men to seven ACAC cross-country banners since 2000.