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Nationals in sight

The winter portion of the 2021-2022 season may have been short, but there are plenty of positives to take from the Dalhousie University Tigers teams’ performances. 

In many sports, Dal is a frontrunner for U Sports conference titles. Even though not every team has had the season they wanted, modified playoff formats in most leagues will give them shots to make noise in the postseason.  

With national championships around the corner, let’s see where each team stands. As of March 9, both hockey teams were in the playoffs. But given their earlier, shorter playoff format, they have been excluded from this article. Same with the men’s volleyball team, as their season ended on March 5. 

Men’s Basketball 

The defending Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s basketball champs have been playing their best all year since returning from the most recent break. They ran into trouble at times in the fall. But they began 2022 by winning their first three games, all by at least 15 points.  

Their stars have come out to shine as well. 2019-2020 AUS MVP Keevan Veinot and sharpshooter Alex Carson have averaged 24 and 16.3 points per game in the new year, respectively. Also, veteran Shamar Burrows has shifted into high gear with 22.3 points per game since the holidays. 

Unsurprisingly, the Tigers have locked down first place and will be tournament favourites at the conference championships, which run from March 17-20 at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre. They’ll meet with eighth-place Acadia in the quarterfinals, who Dal has beat twice this year.  

Women’s Basketball 

The women’s basketball squad hasn’t had the season they’ve hoped for. Leading up to the final regular season weekend of March 11 and 12, they’ve yet to win a game in 2021-2022. However, the injury bug hasn’t been kind to them either. Plus, a COVID-19 outbreak on the team has limited them to just four regular season games in the winter semester.  

On the bright side, in the two games they’ve completed up to March 9, Hannah Chadwick has kept her solid season going as one of Dal’s top scoring threats. Her 28 points combined in those games is the best of anyone on the team since the holidays and fourth-best in points per game this season on Dal. Lia Kentzler has also been consistent, with eight points in each game. 

Despite struggles in the standings, the Tigers will qualify for the AUS basketball championships. There, they will face one of the league’s top teams, either the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers, Saint Mary’s University Huskies or Acadia University Axewomen. Dal will come in as underdogs but in a single-elimination tournament, anything can happen. 

Swimming 

The swimming schedule was hit hard by the Omicron-induced pause this winter but if the fall season was any indication, Dal’s swimming teams haven’t missed a beat.  

Both the men’s and women’s squads topped the leaderboards in all three meets in late 2021, including competitions at Acadia, the University of New Brunswick and at home at the Dalplex. With the success of several swimmers, the teams have succeeded by committee. But Reagan Crowell, Noah Mascoll-Gomes, Emilie Schofield and Logan Spakes have won individual events in each of those meets.  

They, along with a few other teammates, have already posted strong enough times to qualify for the U Sports championships at the Université Laval in late March. The AUS championships took place on March 11 and 12.  

Track and Field 

In competitions since the break, Dal has been winning events left and right. On the track, the Tigers have established frontrunners in both short and long-distance events, plus field competitions.  

Maya Reynolds is arguably the best sprinter in the AUS, winning 60 and 300-metre events at the UNB Reds Invitational meet in February. She also finished third against nationally-ranked sprinters at the Windsor Team Challenge in Windsor, ON.  

Dan Lord has strived on the track too, taking wins at UNB and a fifth-place finish in Windsor. Aidan Goslett captured first in the 1000-metre and Temi Toba-Oluboka was tops in the weight throw in Windsor. Meanwhile, Lorena Heubach won the long jump and shot-put events at the Athletics Nova Scotia Open in Halifax. Nine other teammates also won events at the meet, but Heubach was the only one with two wins.  

Now, the Tigers will set their sights on the AUS championships hosted by the Université de Moncton on March 18-19, then for many of them, the U Sports Championships at UNB from March 31-April 2.  

Women’s Volleyball 

Compared to recent years, Dal has seen an uncharacteristic amount of competition at the top of the league. For the first time since the 2014-2015 season, the Tigers didn’t finish first in the regular-season standings. The last team to top them, SMU, finished first this season.  

Yes, it may not be a typical season, but the team has still been strong and posted a 9-5 (win-loss) record. Julie Moore has been an MVP frontrunner with a 15.5 points per match total, second in the conference. Sarah Dawe and Victoria Turcot have also thrived on offence while on the defensive side, Grace Calnan leads the AUS with 47 total blocks, while Brett Boldon has thrived at the setter position in her rookie year. 

The Tigers played the Memorial University Sea-Hawks in the league quarterfinals on March 9, with the winner moving on to the semis. To qualify for the U Sports championships at the University of Calgary from March 24-27, Dal will have to win the AUS, as only one spot is available for the conference at nationals.  

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