C/O McMaster Sports
As the Cross Country season ends, there is a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to
Over the past couple of months, the cross country and track teams have been finding significant success through several points in their season. Previously, Alex Drover, a fourth-year cross country veteran, won the first Athlete of the Week award of the season in recognition of his exceptional performance at an Ontario University Athletics competition, where he placed first overall.
On Nov. 20, the cross country team took part in the nationwide U Sports Cross Country/Track Nationals. This year, the event took place in Quebec City, at the historic Plains of Abraham. The competition featured numerous turns and hills, which made the race very challenging for the schools involved.
Throughout the Cross Country Nationals, the best performer for the McMaster Marauders was Andrew Davies. Davies finished just short of fourth place in the men's eight kilometre race, with an impressive time of 24:38, which had him 10.5 seconds off the winner of the race, Mitchell Ubene, of the Guelph Gryphons.
Although Davies did miss out on the podium for the 8k race, he did not miss the chance to end up at the podium with the rest of the team, as the Marauders ended up third on the podium, earning themselves a bronze medal with a collective score of 79 points. The only schools to place above the Marauders were the hosts, Université Laval Rouge et Or and Guelph Gryphons, finishing first and second respectively.
Davies, the best runner among the Marauders at the nationals, and his teammate, Max Turek, were both awarded an All-Canadian Bid for their amazing performances in Quebec.
Although the overall results of the Marauders were impressive, Davies did express some level of disappointment with the final results.
“Although we did make the podium, I can’t say that I was particularly happy with our performance as a whole. I personally think that we could have won the whole nationals. We definitely have the potential to do so, but it just wasn't our day,” said Davies.
When asked about his achievement of earning an All-Canadian bid, Davies suggested that he expected to win it based on his strong performance in the race.
“I sort of knew that I was going to get it because I was near the top in the first team. My personal performance was good that day so I saw it coming. Obviously, I am honored to get something like this and it does mean a lot to me,” said Davies.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the runner and his ability to train were mixed. The lockdowns had both physical and mental impacts and changed the way he trained and performed later on.
“To be honest, COVID-19 did not have a massive training effect on me. I was still able to train alone, since we are runners and we don't need partners to do so. If anything, it did sort of help me physically stay in shape because there was no pressure of any race coming up, so I had more time to prepare for whatever was coming next,” explained Davies.
However, Davies did state that the pandemic did have a toll on his mental wellbeing and created a lot of difficulty for his training and mental preparation.
When asked about the future, Davies explained he is certain that there is much more potential within the team and that they could return even stronger next year.
“I think that we can do even better next season. Although some of our runners won't be eligible, many of our best athletes will be staying for another year. There are also some younger runners who have a lot of potential. So, I see us excelling over the next couple of years for sure,” said Davies.
Although the nationals are over for this year, there will be plenty of opportunities for the track and cross country athletes to show their worth next year, when the new season will bring plenty of excitement for all involved.
After falling to the Queen’s University Gaels for the Ontario University Athletics Forsyth Cup, the McMaster men’s volleyball team are headed to the U Sports Men’s Volleyball Championships, but not exactly where they would like to be.
For the first time in seven years, the Marauders are heading to nationals, not as OUA champions. Although surely grateful that they still get to compete at the national level, the disappointment is still there. After a change in OUA men’s volleyball structure, the men’s team had to play their final game on the Gaels’ home court, despite being the number one seed.
The close matchup saw the Marauders and Gaels play five sets. After ending the first set 19-25, the Marauders bounced back strong, winning the second and third set 25-19 and 25-23, respectively. Unfortunately, the Gaels were in the comfort of their own home and were able to outscore the Marauders in both the fourth and fifth set, 16-25 and 13-15.
This result landed the Marauders ranked seventh place going into nationals in Quebec City this weekend. Not only is this McMaster's lowest seed at the national tournament since Mac hosted in 2007, but their first opponents are also their longtime rivals, British Columbia’s Trinity Western University Spartans.
The number two seeded team has faced Mac several times in the national playoffs, and for the last four years, they have outplayed Mac. For First Team All-Star left side Andrew Richards, this is the last Canadian university volleyball championships he will ever play in. So hopefully the Marauders will be able to shake the curse and come out victorious against the Spartans.
First serve is scheduled for this Friday at 6:00 p.m.
By: William Li
On Feb. 11, Uighur activist Rukiye Turdush’s presentation at McMaster University about China’s mass internment of Muslims was disrupted by student protestors.
Controversially, these students had rallied not only to protest the event, but to coordinate with the Chinese Embassy.
The Washington Post reports that this coordination went beyond ordinary consular services: in addition to sending photos, the students say they were requested to search the talk for any university officials or Chinese nationals.
This is alarming, as it represents an attempt to harass and intimidate Turdush into silence. It is also disturbing because the Chinese government has no business collecting information about political events on campus.
It is important to remember that the Chinese Communist Party currently runs an authoritarian government with absolute control of China, including its foreign embassies. The regime also has a long history of violently crushing dissent.
Most notably, at the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, thousands of students were massacred with tanks and machine guns. Lawyers, activists and even Nobel laureates are regularly imprisoned for criticizing the Communist Party. Today, China also uses internet censorship and a social credit system to neuter any challenge to Party rule.
The incident with Turdush shows that similar political repression is not something distant and foreign; it is something that happened on campus and continues to happen.
One of the most overlooked victims here are the Chinese international students. This is especially true if photos are being sent to the Chinese Embassy. This essentially creates a system of fear in which students surveil each other, reporting to officials any deviance from the Communist Party line.
For international students seeking a liberal education in Canada, where our academic freedom would let them develop skills in independent-thinking that may be frowned upon in China, these hopes are dashed.
Instead, they are kept on a tight leash. Any deviance from Party-approved behaviour risks a report to the embassy, and resulting repercussions back home such as endangering family members or losing job and business opportunities.
Despite being on Canadian soil, these students will never get to fully experience basic freedoms that Canadian citizens take for granted. If Chinese students cannot speak freely, or even attend a political event, without risking state punishment, then this prevents any real discussion about Turdush’s presentation or any issues affecting them.
Even worse, this kind of political repression is being advanced by McMaster Students Union-ratified clubs.
In a statement written in Chinese, the McMaster Chinese Students and Scholar Association, McMaster Chinese News Network and McMaster Chinese Professional Society condemned Turdush and confirmed they contacted the Chinese Consulate in Toronto.
The McMaster English Language Development Student Association, an affiliate of the faculty of humanities, and the McMaster Chinese Graduate Students Club also signed the statement.
This statement was not directed at Turdush, nor any non-Chinese students. Rather, for the international students who can read Chinese, the thinly-veiled threat was crystal clear: promote the Communist Party line on political issues, or you will be reported to the Chinese consulate.
This is deplorable. MSU-ratified clubs and affiliates of the university should not be surveilling McMaster students and reporting their activities to foreign governments.
They should not propagate an environment where fear of surveillance prevents students from speaking out. They should not masquerade as safe spaces for international students if they have a hidden agenda to allow authoritarian regimes a backdoor to covertly monitor their citizens abroad.
There is also evidence that this problem is not unique to McMaster. The Chinese government has actively tried to influence academic institutions in several liberal democracies, particularly with its Confucius Institutes.
The MSU needs to investigate if these clubs have violated the Clubs Operating Policy by reporting political activity on campus to the Chinese government, through negatively affecting students’ ability to conduct their lawful affairs (22.214.171.124), interfering with other clubs’ activities (126.96.36.199) or failing to fully disclose connections to bodies outside of the MSU (4.2).
Declining to take action would betray anybody who feels surveilled, muffled or repressed by the Chinese government, and tarnish the MSU’s reputation as a safe and inclusive union that puts students’ interests first.
By: Graham West
On Feb. 23, Ben Zahra placed silver in the U Sports 76-kilogram wrestling championships, but for Zahra, silver isn’t quite where he wanted to be. Although his performance earned him his fourth Pita Pit Athlete of the Week, the third-year commerce student had aspirations of topping the podium in Calgary.
The second-place finish is the second time Zahra medaled at U Sports, winning bronze last year in a convincing bronze medal match. Even though the tournament just ended, the third-year wrestler is already looking forward to training hard to achieve his goal of finishing first.
“Next year I really want to win U Sport, it’s my big goal,” Zahra said. “I was hoping to do it this year, but I had a really tough competitor from Brock [University] so it didn’t really go as well as I wanted it to, but I’m still ok with a silver. It’s good progression because last year I came third.”
Injuries were something bothering Zahra on his way to capturing silver, making his journey to the podium at the national championships and improve his finish from last year that much more impressive. Battling through the mental and physical limitations of injury made his road to nationals even more difficult.
“This year it was a little different because I was struggling with injuries a little bit, I had a rib injury and a lower back injury that I was dealing with,” Zahra said. “Last year my body felt great, it was really healthy, but this year I had to adjust my practices accordingly because I couldn’t do a lot of stuff everyone else was doing.”
🤼 | RECAP
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) February 25, 2019
One of Zahra’s main motivations on the mat is performing well for his team. Even though wrestling is an individual sport, they place as a team based on their combined performances. This plays an important role for when they’re competing, as it increases their support for each other, always being there to cheer each other on and make each other better.
“There’s this team aspect to it where if you win, you contribute to your team's overall total points and then at the end of the tournament, there's a team title for men, women and overall,” Zahra explained. “So when you’re wrestling, it’s in the back of your head and you have a lot of your teammates cheering you on, so you almost do it for them more than yourself.”
“Ultimately, it is an individual sport and you’re wrestling for yourself,” Zahra added. “But it makes the wins that much sweeter when you do it for your team and you help contribute to your team’s score.”
Zahra has been a perennial Pita Pit Athlete of the Week for the Marauder’s after he claimed his fourth title on Feb. 25. Recognizing athletes who have had notable performances every week, Zahra has regularly been named to the spotlight despite being in a sport that does not always get a lot of attention.
“It’s nice to get a free pita out of it, but I don’t really wrestle for that,” Zahra said. “It’s nice to get recognition but it’s not why I do it. I love the sport, it’s something I’ve done my whole life and those little things are nice, but overall I try not to pay too much attention to them.”
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) February 25, 2019
Zahra knows he does not want his wrestling career to end with university athletics as the star wrestler has his sights set on the Olympics.
“[Club] Nationals this year are in Saskatoon. I’m competing up a weight class which should be good, I’m excited,” Zahra said. “It’s actually the qualifying year for the Olympics… so this year is what gets you on the seating platform for next year’s Olympic trials. It should be a really competitive nationals for us.”
Zahra has been one of McMaster’s best wrestlers during his time here and is well on the path to getting gold at next year’s championships. With possibly a trip to the Olympics in the near future, Zahra will be a name to watch in the Marauders community as he continues to dominate the mat.
After a slow start to the season, the women’s volleyball team is rolling and looking to lock up a spot in the playoffs. Their slow start can be attributed to the major shift in the roster, with many upper-year players graduating, but the newer players are filling in admirably and the roster is loaded with potential.
They’ve won four out of their last five games, which is in large part due to a few players stepping up their play. Most notably, right side Jessie Nairn’s recent play earned her the Pita Pit Athlete of the Week for leading the team in points and kills over their weekend trip to Thunder Bay.
Stuffing the stat sheet in all facets of the game, Nairn’s 13 kills in the team’s Jan. 27 win over Lakehead University is a perfect example of what she brings to the rotation.
The Marauders are back on track as they are riding a string of good games, with their only loss in the past five games coming from the undefeated and first in the division University of Waterloo Warriors.
“Even though we lost against Waterloo, we played a really good game against them,” Nairn said. “And if we play the way we did, we can definitely beat, if not at least play a really good game against, all of the teams coming up in the next couple of weeks.”
Nairn says the team is still in the process of finding its identity after losing so many of its veteran players. However, their development over the course of the season thus far is why they’ve been on a hot streak lately, which should easily transfer to next season.
“After losing a really big graduating class last year, I’d say that our skills aren’t really spread out yet and we haven’t found out what our strengths are, so we’re slowly starting to get to that point,” Nairn said. “Although we’re a really big blocking team and we’re definitely one of the best blocking teams in the league, we’re definitely a big offensive team. Where we struggle is starting the offence, so passing and stuff like that, but when we have that done, it’s when we’re at our best.”.
It’s been a tough transition going from losing only five regular season games over the past two seasons to having lost six already this season, but Nairn is confident the team can close out the season successfully.
The roster is filled with talent and potential but is lacking experience. With that being said, it hasn’t stopped the team from remaining in playoff contention despite the roster’s youthfulness.
“In the past years, we’ve only lost two or three games. So for my first two years, it was a big deal losing,” Nairn said on the team’s recent struggles. “Learning to lose, and then learning to learn from that, knowing that it’s going to be ok and that we are good enough to win and win the whole league — we just need to have the mentality to get there because we don’t know how to deal with losing yet, but we're getting there.”
Nairn believes the team still has the capability of going far in the postseason and they still have their sights set on a trip to nationals.
“Our goal is definitely still to win, even though our path to get there is looking a little rocky,” Nairn said. “We’ve played really good games against some of the teams that are definitely going to be in the final four this year. For instance, our very first game this season where we were nowhere near as good as we are now, we went to five sets with [the University of] Toronto and they’re looking like a team that will definitely be in the final four.”
The women’s volleyball team has had it’s fair share of struggles so far this season but they are a bright young team, with a roster full of talented players and greatness on the horizon.
The McMaster swimming team will be heading to the University of British Columbia for the U Sports Swimming Championships on Thursday, Feb. 21 through Saturday, Feb. 23. After competing at the Ontario University Athletic Championships this past weekend, the women’s team finished with 545 points as a group, beating out Western University for second place for the first time since 2007. A large part of the team’s success is thanks to Isabelle Lei’s silver medal in the 200m individual medley and bronze in the 400m freestyle. Lei also helped win three medals in team relays. On the men’s side, Mitch Muizelaar took home the team’s only gold medal, repeating as OUA champion in the 1500m freestyle. The qualified Marauders will be competing during nationals this weekend.
The McMaster wrestling team will be heading to Calgary for the U Sports Wrestling Championships, hosted by the University of Calgary on Feb. 22-23, 2019. The Marauders, who medaled during the OUA championships, will be attending the national competition. On the men’s side, Ameen Aghamirian, who was previously named U Sports Athlete of the Week, was named the OUA's Most Outstanding Male Wrestler, and first-year Trystan Kato took home the men's Rookie of the Year award. While for the women, Ligaya Stinellis and Joelle Vanderslagt each took home a silver medal.
The cross-country team will take their talents indoors this reading week for the OUA Track and Field Championships, which will take place at the Toronto Track & Field Centre on Feb. 22-23. The team completed their outdoor season with great success, and have been competing in indoor meets ever since in preparation for these championships. The medalists of the meet will move on to compete at the national level for the U Sports Championships at the University of Manitoba on March 7-9.
By: Graham West
Hard work, toughness and focus are the key elements that have led to Hilary Hanaka’s outstanding success at the university level. After recently achieving the milestone of 1000 career points, Hanaka is looking forward to a season filled with promise.
Hitting 1000 career points is a huge career landmark and it meant a lot to Hanaka, although she stressed the importance the team has had in contributing to her being able to achieve it.
“It’s a pretty big milestone to hit and it means a lot to hit that point,” Hanaka said. “But, of course it’s a team sport overall, so I think I’m more excited to figure out where our team will end up this season… it's obviously nice to hit that point, but I obviously wouldn’t have gotten to this point without the help of my teammates and my coach.”
It has not always been easy on the path to greatness for Hanaka as there have been challenges with balancing academics and being a varsity athlete.
“There are positives and negatives. Coming into first year, that was when the big adjustment hit,” Hanaka said. “Obviously, it’s a much bigger time commitment being on a varsity team and having classes every single day, practices every day and you’re away on weekends and just making sure you find the right balance to do everything.”
“With that being said, you’re surrounded by an incredible group of girls, coaching staffs,” Hanaka added. “We have so much support through the athletic department, so whenever things were going downhill, you always had someone to pick you back up.”
Hanaka’s experience with the difficulties athletes can face and her expertise on the court are some of the things that make her a great leader. Being there for her teammates on and off the court is instrumental to the success of the team and something that is incredibly important to her as well.
“Off the court is just as important as on the court when it comes to varsity sports,” Hanaka said.
“Being a veteran player, I’ve been around for five years so I’ve been through most of the things that bring you down and that go on. So just being able to be there for the girls is something that I really strive to do.”
“Just knowing that I’ve been in the position of a first-year, second-year, third-year and even a fourth-year player and things aren't always fun and games there’s always going to be those lows,” Hanaka added. "Being able to make sure the girls are aware that I’m always there for them, whether it’s something basketball-related, life-related, school-related, whatever it might be, that just because I’m a leader on the court, doesn’t mean I can’t be the leader off the court. ”
Whenever Hanaka’s career as a player ends, it will most certainly not be the end to her basketball career. When you have a particularly knowledgeable player who is a natural leader, coaching is always on the horizon. It is something Hanaka is interested in, and given her success as a player, seems very possible.
“I would love to be a coach. Growing up I’ve always been surrounded by basketball and it’s been a huge part of my life,” Hanaka said. “Being a player has been incredible, but I think I’m kinda ready to hang up the shoes and move forward. Hopefully down the road, coaching is something that I’ll be put into.”
Always one of the first people in the gym, Hanaka has had an outstanding career so far in the maroon and grey and looks to only improve. The team is one to watch as they continue to play their way to a return to nationals, with their eyes clearly set on taking home gold.
This weekend, the McMaster wrestling team headed to the York University Open, and two Marauders came home with one more medal than they came with.
Rookie Ligaya Stinellis took home her second divisional gold of the season and second-year Simi Jayeoba took home silver. We caught up with the two Marauders after their victorious weekend below:
Ligaya: First year, general social science
Simi: Second year, level one engineering
L: Instead of psyching myself up as I have in the past, I went into this tournament calmer and not as nervous. I just try to be as competitive as possible, and go to the mat and to do what I practice.
S: It was good to compete, and just over the last few weeks we’ve been going to different tournaments, so it’s nice to see actual progress.
L: I went on Facebook, and I was being tagged in a bunch of stuff, but I didn’t realize it was the McMaster Athletics account that I was getting the notifications from. When I checked, I was in shock, but I was super ecstatic. Right away, I told my mom and she too was so excited.
L: I’m actually from Hamilton, and I absolutely adore it. But school wise, I’ve heard a lot of good things about the human behaviour program here at Mac, so academically it checked the boxes. Wrestling wise, I’ve been practicing with the Mac team since high school, so coming somewhere where I was already comfortable was a really big selling point for me too.
S: It’s a great school academically, and the environment here is very welcoming. That was something very important to me, to go to a place where I could feel like it’s another home. The wrestling team was made up of good people and good training, so it seemed like the right opportunity.
L: One thing that always surprises people is that I’ve been doing karate since I was about four years old.
S: I just started knitting. One day last year, I walked into the library in Westdale, and a lady showed me how to knit. I never really started doing it, but I needed some Christmas gifts so I picked it up again.
L: I am hoping to make it to nationals. So, qualifying at the Ontario University Athletics Championships and then making it to nationals.
S: I want to constantly challenge myself to make sure whatever I’m doing, despite the outcome, I put my whole heart into it. And to just grow, not only physically but mentally as a wrestler.
Stinellis and Jayeoba performance this weekend has helped the Marauders women’s team secure the No. 9 national spot in the U Sports rankings this week. Up next, they host the Ontario Senior Provincials this weekend on Nov. 24.
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By Graham West
At their most recent cross-country meet, the Western Invitational, Josh McGillivray led the team to a second-overall finish, placing third individually. McGillivray, who led the field for McMaster for the first time in his career, said he treated this race differently than his past competitions, going in with a mindset to start at the front of the pack and staying there.
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) October 2, 2018
Clearly it worked as he had a career day, enough to get him named Pita Pit Athlete of the Week. He finished the 8 km course in an astonishing 24:20, and McGillivray thinks he will keep this week’s new strategy going forward to see if it will continue to work, but he will not change everything in his race-day preparations.
Cross-country is more of a mental sport than most people would realize, far more than most would consider it to be at first glance. There are so many people you are directly competing with that it can certainly take a toll mentally on a runner, constantly checking what place you are in, al the while to continuing to push yourself.
McGillivray highlighted the fact that with lengthy races, you are constantly pushing yourself to keep running as hard as you can, and this is where a lot of strength and grit comes in. The third-year runner also noted that preparation for cross-country meets is always very thorough. He said that making sure to get a good sleep, not only the night before but two nights before, can be instrumental to his success in addition to eating properly.
Even though you run individually, McGillivray emphasized that cross-country really is a team sport. Although you run by yourself during the races the sense of community really prevails, and that traditional sense of team chemistry is still very present.
For example, several Mac runners who were not even participating in the track meet because they had already run in a previous race came to cheer on their teammates who were competing. McGillivray said this is one of the tightest groups of guys he can remember, which allows them to be their best selves athletically as they continue to push each other.
“I’m surrounded by an incredible group of guys every single day and we kind of suffer through together,” said McGillivray. “We work hard, we all do the workouts. I think it was me on that given day that was leading the team, but I think our team is strong enough and deep enough that on any given day, anyone of us could be at the head of the group”
McGillivray highlighted the importance of staying cool and not overworking oneself, something he credits his coach, Paula Schnurr, for being very good at. He also stressed the importance that even though it can be really easy to go too hard, cross-country nationals is still a month and a half a way so it’s important for the athletes to pace themselves throughout the season.
“I think that the depth of this team, although we have had really deep teams the past few years, we’ve come fourth consecutively in the past five years now at nationals, but this year and the depth of this team is pretty insane,” McGillivray explained.
McGillivray believes that this could be the year the team breaks recent tradition and places on the podium at nationals.
“On any given day, because you have your top five scorers and then your top seven are considered your team because you have two alternates, I don’t think we'll have the same top seven in a consecutive race all season,” McGillivray said.
While there is still a long time before the team transitions to the indoor track season, the start to this year looks promising. With a roster that looks better than ever, a very clear drive and determination to succeed, the men’s cross-country team has nationals in sight and look poised to buck the trend of placing fourth for the past five years.