Bears and Pandas rack up another successful year
The Golden Bears and Pandas varsity sports teams had a successful 2011 and are pushing for even more success when the regular season resumes in January 2012.
The New Year through the end of March is traditionally an important time of year for athletics, but 2012 carries added significance because of two signature events hosted by Golden Bears and Pandas athletics. First up is the Canada West swimming championship (Jan. 27–29), which will see the best swimmers in the west—potential and current Olympians among them—compete for conference glory. Then in March, the Pandas hockey program, the most successful women’s university hockey program in Canada, will host the 2012 Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship from March 8–11 at historic Clare Drake Arena on campus.
Nineteen of 25 Golden Bear and Panda teams are competing already this varsity season, with seven finished their seasons. Golden Bears football, soccer and cross-country, as well as Pandas soccer, field hockey, rugby and cross-country, all wrapped up their seasons in the fall with varying degrees of success in Canada West conference action as well as on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport stage.
Both Golden Bears and Pandas soccer and cross-country teams, as well as Pandas field hockey, competed in their respective national championships, with Golden Bears soccer finishing fourth in the nation and Pandas soccer claiming fifth place. Both cross-country teams finished inside the top 15 in Canada. Soccer players Brett Colvin (business, fifth-year) and Heather Lund (nursing, fifth-year) became the all-time goal-scoring leaders for the Golden Bears and Pandas. Lund was also named a Canadian Interuniversity Sport first-team All-Canadian.
At the Canada West level, the Golden Bears soccer team was crowned champion, its 11th title in team history and the 201st conference championship in U of A athletics history. The Pandas soccer team, as well as the rugby team, earned silver medals.
Golden Bears football player Brent Krawchuk, a fourth-year physical education and recreation student, was named a Canada West All-Star, as were 13 other Golden Bear and Panda athletes. Krawchuk and teammate Tyler Greenslade (physical education and recreation) received invitations to attend the 2012 Canadian Football League evaluation camp, where they will showcase their talents to CFL team scouts and general managers in Toronto in March 2012.
Fourth-year Pandas midfielder and nursing student Carleigh Miller won the Canada West Student-Athlete Award, becoming the third Panda to win in the last four seasons.
Shifting indoors, the Golden Bear and Panda basketball, hockey, volleyball, swimming, track and field and wrestling teams are already underway, with tennis, golf and curling awaiting their playoff seasons. Of those teams, eight of them opened their seasons ranked in the national top 10, including Pandas wrestling, which is ranked No. 1 in Canada and is defending national champion. Golden Bears swimming is also ranked No. 1 in the nation, while Pandas volleyball, Golden Bears volleyball, Golden Bears wrestling and Golden Bears and Pandas swimming are all ranked in the top five.
Golden Bears and Pandas conference action resumes on the Jan. 6–7 weekend when the Pandas hockey team hosts the Calgary Dinos (Jan. 6), and the Golden Bears hockey team also hosts Calgary (Jan. 7). In non-conference play, the wrestling teams will put on the Golden Bear Invitational Tournament in the Pavilion, and Pandas volleyball will welcome Canada West teams and Tsukuba University from Japan for the New Year’s Classic tournament.