Guelph’s Thomas Land and Lethbridge’s Benjamin Ingvaldson were honoured Thursday morning as the U SPORTS Track and Field Athletes of the Year on the men’s side, as the national season award winners were celebrated at the annual awards luncheon.
The recipients included Land (Track MVP), Ingvaldson (field MVP), Mark Bujnowski of Guelph (Rookie of the Year) and Victoria’s Tyler Smith (Student-Athlete Community Service Award).
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (TRACK EVENTS): Thomas Land, Guelph
Thomas Land, a fifth year mechanical engineering student, has been instrumental in helping the Gryphons men’s track and field team capture an OUA title in 2018 while also maintaining the top spot in the national rankings throughout the 2017-18 season.
The Turkey Point, Ont., native who a year ago was named Outstanding Athlete of the Meet at the U SPORTS Championships, produced a double-gold medal performance at the 2018 OUA Championships, crossing the finish line first in both the men’s 600m and men’s 1000m events.
Throughout his university career, Land has established him as one of the top middle-distance runners in U SPORTS history, and will look to cap his collegiate career by helping lead the top-ranked Gryphons to a second consecutive national title.
Tommy is a focused, talented guy who brings his ‘A’ game every time the gun goes off. We went into this year with a simple goal of having him just try to win as many races as possible. He has used some different tactics and styles along the way, but every time he’s on that line we are trying to do something big.
Dave Scott-Thomas – Guelph head coach
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (FIELD EVENTS): Benjamin Ingvaldson, Lethbridge
Ben Ingvaldson of the Lethbridge Pronghorns is the 2018 U SPORTS Field Athlete of the Year. Ingvaldson becomes the second consecutive Pronghorn, and third all-time, to win the award. Fifth-year Peter Millman won the award last year and Olympian Jim Steacy won the award four times in his Pronghorn career (2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009).
The Surrey, B.C. native continues Lethbridge’s strong tradition in the men’s throwing events, claiming top spot in both men’s throwing events at the 2018 Canada West Track and Field Championships and was named the Canada West Field Athlete of the Year. The double gold medal performance is the fifth year in a row that a Pronghorn has achieved the feat, following Millman’s four-year reign at the top of both podiums. In his shot put win, the 5-foot-11, third-year thrower set a new personal best with a throw of 15.99 metres and narrowly missed his personal best in his weight throw win.
Ingvaldson has medaled at the Canada West Championships in both events all three years but this was the first two golds of his Canada West career. Last year, he won silver in the shot put and bronze in the weight throw, and as a freshman won bronze in both events.
Ben has been having a great season, while taking up the leadership reigns in the performance department and being named the field performer of the year reaffirms this.
Larry Steinke – Lethbridge head coach
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Mark Bujnowski, Guelph
Gryphon rookie Mark Bujnowski has burst onto the U SPORTS scene in 2017-18, establishing himself as one of the country’s best in both the shot put and weight throw.
Currently the nation’s top-ranked shot putter, with a throw of 16.57m at the McGill Team Challenge, Bujnowski has seamlessly transitioned to the new weight implement of 16 lbs. (an increase of nearly 3 lbs. compared to the weight used at the junior level).
Aside from being the top-ranked shot putter in U SPORTS, Mark is also currently ranked eighth in the country in weight throw. Bujnowski’s sister, Kristen, represented Team Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, where she competed in the Bobsleigh.
Mark is everything you’d want in a young athlete. He’s open minded, positive at practice, he communicates well and he is a monster physical talent who has a great brain to go with it. It’s a rare combo. His Gryphon career is off to a great start and we want to give him all the resources he needs to be as good as we believe he is, which is world-class.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Tyler Smith, Victoria
A fifth-year education student, Tyler Smith participates and contributes to Varsity Council meetings, which helps set up initiatives such as blood donations and Power to Be collaborations with the Vikes athletes to promote community engagement and mentorship.
He is also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters plus a 2017 Honour Roll student and has been First or Second Team All-Canadian for the past four years.
The reason we nominated Tyler for this award is the growth we have seen from him in the last five years. He is a Big Brother in Big Brothers, Big Sisters and he has really improved in his ability to manage and balance being both a student and a top-level athlete. It’s so impressive and we thought he should be recognized for that because not many people know about the work that he puts in off the track as well.
Hilary Stellingwerff – Vikes assistant coach