HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
The whistle sounds and we’ve reached halftime in the regular-season schedules for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, Carleton University Ravens, Ottawa Sooners and Ottawa Jr. Riders.
And all is looking good as these four familiar fall franchises are looking confidently at qualifying for their respective playoffs.
The Gee-Gees were the only team to manage a victory on Saturday, while the Ravens and Sooners settled for learning experiences against better teams and the Jr. Riders had a bye week.
Quarterback Ben Maracle tossed three touchdown passes and handed off for two others as the No. 10-ranked Gee-Gees pounded the No. 9 University of Guelph Gryphons 46-10 in an OUA game before 1,077 fans at TD Place.
Ottawa’s James Keenan sparked No. 5 Queen’s University Gaels to a 49-16 home victory over the Ravens by connecting on 19 of 22 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Keenan is the No. 3-ranked passer in the U Sports league.
The undefeated St. Clair Saints defeated the host Sooners 35-16 during their only regular-season meeting and a first-place showdown in the Ontario Football Conference.
The Gee-Gees, who are in a second-place tie at 3-1 with Queen’s in the OUA standings, fired up their high-powered offence in the second quarter and never let up.
Maracle connected with Willey-Pierre Dimbongi (56 yards), Nicholas Gendron (17 yards) and Daniel Oladejo (37 yards) for touchdowns. The Gee-Gees’ final two touchdowns came off running plays by Amlicar Polk (42 yards) and J.P. Cimankinda (23 yards).
Campbell Fair accounted for 13 points as he was successful on three of five field-goal attempts (31, 24 and 10 yards) and four converts. Ottawa also marked a team safety.
Maracle completed 17 of 28 pass attempts for 303 yards, and also watched his two main running backs have century games – Polk (10 carries for 116 yards) and Cimankinda (16 for 108). Oladejo caught six passes for 124 yards.
On defence, James Peter registered six solo and eight assisted tackles, which was rather fitting for the No. 1 ranked tackler in U Sports football with an average of 9.0 tackles/game.
Carleton received its two touchdowns from their quarterbacks. Starter Tanner DeJong passed to Harvey Mafuta for a 33-yard score and Tristan Rinaldis ran one-yard for a touchdown. Brandon Forcier kicked a 26-yard field goal and added one convert.
DeJong, the No. 2 quarterback in U Sports passing with an average of 269 yards a game, produced an over-achieving effort, despite the loss. He connected on 18 of 28 passes for 375 yards. He also was intercepted twice and was sacked on two occasions.
Joachim Christian posted eight tackles for Carleton, which supported his No. 3 U Sport ranking for tackles per game at 8.5.
The Sooners will travel to London on Saturday to meet the Beefeaters in a battle of second-place teams with 4-2 records. St. Clair leads the junior conference at 6-0.
The Jr. Riders, 3-1, also will resume play on Saturday as they travel to Quebec City to face the Bataillon.
At the halfway point, Jalla Lansanah and Brandon McDonald are one-two respectively in the Quebec Major Junior Football League in rushing at 203 and 164 yards. Josh Streng is a double league leader in field-goal kicking, making five of six attempts, and converts, booting all six converts.
GABRIELA DABROWSKI, LUISA STEFANI HAVE SUCCESSFUL RETURN
The magic has returned for Gabriela Dabrowski of Gloucester and Luisa Stefani of Brazil.
When they were last teamed on the doubles tennis court, Dabrowski and Stefani won the Canadian Open title in Montreal and were finalists in Cincinnati and San Jose in 2021.
But at the 2021 U.S. Open, Stefani sustained a knee injury and needed surgery. She made her return to tennis and to Dabrowski a winning one at last week’s Chennai Open in Chennai, India.
Dabrowski and Stefani won all four matches without losing a set, including posting a 57-minute, 6-1, 6-2 decision over Anna Blinkova of Russia and Natela Dzalamidze of Georgia in the final.
The victory allowed Dabrowski to climb one step on the WTA doubles rankings to 10th and earn her a 12th career title, while Stefani, who was once ranked ninth, claimed her fourth championship.
DEREK GEE 19TH IN MEN’S ELITE TIME TRIAL AT WORLDS
Three Ottawa cyclists finished in the middle of the pack in their opening individual time-trial races at the world road cycling championships in Wollongong, Australia.
Derek Gee placed 19th in the gruelling 34.2-kilometre men’s elite sprint and finished one minute, 48.93 seconds behind Norway’s Tobias Foss, who clocked a winning time of 40:02.78. Matteo Dal-Cin was 26th and 2:17.66 behind Foss.
In the men’s U23 time trials, Soren Waerenskjold gave Norway its second gold medal with an unbeatable time of 34:13.40 over the 28.8-kilometre course. Carson Miles finished 2:57.63 behind Waerenskjold in 29th place.
The road races are later this week.
RAYNE DUBOIS, DUBLIN WIN SECOND EQUESTRIAN GRAND PRIX
The equestrian show jumping season concluded at Wesley Clover Parks with the Ottawa National weekend and Ottawa’s Rayne Dubois left the ring a winner.
Dubois and two-year partner Dublin proved the fastest pair in the seven rider-horse combination jump-off to win the $20,000 Grand Prix. It was their second Grand Prix victory this season at Wesley Clover Parks, having won the Ottawa Welcome tournament in June.
The last team to tackle the jump-off, Dubois and Dublin needed to beat a time of 43.04 seconds, which was set by David Arcand of Montreal and Phil v/d Wezelse Heihoeve. Dubois and Dublin posted a top time of 42.98.
“They raised the last fence, a vertical, in the jump-off, which we thought might be the bogey fence,” Dubois said in a Jump Media press release. “You basically had to let them go and try to get one less stride and let them pop over. If I had helped him, I probably would have got in his way.”
Dubois started riding at Wesley Clover Parks in 2016 before moving to train at the Millar Brooke Farm in Perth with the Millar team.
Christine Wiggins of Ottawa placed third in the $20,000 Grand Prix on Cabaliero in 47.27 seconds.
OTTAWA GOLFERS HAVE TOP-3 RESULTS AT NEXTGEN TOURNAMENT
Isaiah Ibit of Ottawa placed third overall in the boys’ junior class at Golf Canada’s NextGen Fall Series East 54-hole tournament in Hampton, N.B. He shot rounds of 75-81-78 for a 21-over-par 234.
Ottawa’s Chase Jerome finished ninth overall, but was second in the boys’ bantam category at 86-76-80-242. Carlee Meilleur of Lansdowne, ON., was third in the girls’ junior class and won the bantam title at 86-79-80 for a 32-over-par 245.
By placing in the top three, Ibit and Meilleur have earned exemptions into their respective Canadian junior golf championships for 2023.
CANADIAN WHEELCHAIR RUGBY TEAM BEATS PARALYMPIC CHAMPS
Captain Patrice Dagenais and the Canadian wheelchair rugby team knocked off the reigning Paralympic champions at their final tune-up competition before the 2022 World Championships on Sunday in Wales.
Canada completed a perfect 5-0 run at the Quad Nations event with a heart-pumping 54-52 double-overtime victory over Great Britain in the tournament final, which was decided in the final seconds.
The Canadians, ranked sixth in the world, earlier downed France (No. 5) 53-45, Germany (No. 10) 61-49 and Great Britain (No. 2) 58-57 in overtime in the preliminary round and then topped Germany 53-48 in the semi-final.
The 2022 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship is scheduled for Oct. 10-16 in Denmark.
Dagenais competed in his third Paralympics last summer in Tokyo and serves as president of the local Ottawa Stingers wheelchair rugby club.
ONTARIO CUP SOCCER CROWN FOR GLOUCESTER CELTIC
The Gloucester Celtic were the lone local soccer side to compete in the final round of the MilkUP Ontario Cup, held the past two weekends in Vaughan, ON, and they emerged as champions.
Joey Kewin, Andrew Bryan and Nevello Yoseke were the goal scorers as the Celtic downed Caledon 3-1 to win their fourth Ontario Cup men’s title of all-time.
Gloucester earned its way to the final round of the summertime knockout competition with previous victories over teams from Kitchener, Toronto, Windsor and North York.
The Celtic will now return to Vaughan and compete for the host province for Canada Soccer’s Men’s Challenge Trophy tournament come the 2022 Toyota National Championships from Oct. 5-10.
Gloucester also won last season’s Ontario Cup, but did not get to compete nationally due to a COVID-induced cancellation. The Celtic previously won provincial men’s crowns in 2016 (when they went on to place third nationally) and 2013 (when they were national champs).
Ottawa St. Anthony were runners-up at the last nationals in 2019 and won the lone other local Canadian men’s crown in 2006.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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