Guelph runner Max Davies leads pack of young record-breakers in U Sports championship season

In a U Sports championship season filled with record-breaking performances by young athletes, Max Davies stood out above the rest.

The 20-year-old middle-distance runner’s three gold medals were the driving force of the Guelph Gryphons collecting a seventh consecutive men’s national title at the 2024 U Sports Track & Field Championships in Winnipeg on Mar. 9.

While Davies lists his 4×800-metre relay win alongside teammates Adam Schmidt, Mason Basson and Alanzo Ryan as the highlight of his weekend, the Toronto native also holds the esteemed title of the only U Sports record-breaker across the three-day event.

And he did it twice in both the 1,000m and 1,500m finals, now standing as the only current U Sports record holder in multiple events.

“I feel like some people put too much emphasis on the time, when at these championship meets, placement matters,” said Davies, who helped secure 30 of Guelph’s 89 points in the standings to edge Manitoba out by 7.5 points for first place. “If you’re thinking about the team score, I wanted to get 10 points to maximize our chances of winning.

“When I got told after [about the records] I was obviously very happy; it’s always nice to break a record. But… when you win, that is forever — and the record could be broken next year.”

While the nature of track and field records is to fall as athletes improve year-over-year, what the 2024 U Sports male track athlete of the year accomplished was rare.

His 1,000m record time of two minutes, 21 seconds bested a 2:22.09 record that has stood since 2012, set by Guelph’s Tommy Lecours.

And his 1,500m time of 3:44.00 cleared Allan Klassen of UBC’s record that had stood for 34 years by 2.85 seconds. Three other athletes also bested Klassen’s mark set in 1990 in a very brisk 2024 final.

Klassen’s record was the fourth-longest standing of the 32 events that comprise the U Sports Track & Field Championships, which was only set more recently than the women’s 600m, 1,500m, and 3,000m records — all earned in the 1980s.

Max Davies of Guelph was named the U Sports male track athlete of the year for his outstanding 2024 season. (Dave Mahussier/University of Guelph Athletics)

Before returning to Guelph for both the cross country and track & field seasons, Davies will now turn his attention to the outdoor summer season, where he’s hoping to push himself to run under 3:40.00 in the 1,500m on the national stage.

The Canadian outdoor record in the 1,500m was set by Kevin Sullivan in Rome in 2000, with a time of 3:31.71.

UNB men’s hockey caps perfect season

In most senses, the University of New Brunswick’s historic 30-0-0 men’s hockey season capped with a 5-0 AUS playoff run and a 3-0 nationals showing was built on experience, from 24-year-old championship MVP Brady Gilmour to 25-year-old AUS MVP Austen Keating, who combined for five points in their 4-0 final victory over UQTR on Sunday.

With an average age of 23.16, the Reds were the oldest team at the eight-team 2024 U Sports University Cup in Toronto, and were returning 20 players from the 2023 championship squad.

WATCH | UNB makes hockey history:

UNB Reds complete perfect season, defend men’s hockey title with victory over UQTR Patriotes

The New Brunswick Reds defeat the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes 4-0 to cap off their perfect season and successfully defend their University Cup championship.

But as UNB looks to carry over a remarkable 47-game winning streak across all competitions to next season, which includes the first unblemished season record since 1962/63 McMaster, there are some fresher faces they can continue to lean on.

Leading the charge among the younger members of the team is centre Sean McGurn.

The 21-year-old’s first season with the Reds was a resounding success, with 29 points in 30 regular season games, and the game-winning goal in their 7-0 national semifinal win over TMU.

McGurn came into this season with big game pedigree, coming off of a 2023 playoff run with the London Knights where he placed second in playoff scoring with 10 goals, 16 assists and 26 points in 21 games en route to a loss in the finals to the Peterborough Petes.

22-year-old defenceman Kale McCallum was also immense in his second year with the Reds, and could draw interest from pro teams.

The Fredericton native piled up 11 goals and 42 points to rank second in team scoring in the regular season, and had one goal and a plus-five rating across three games at nationals.

“There’s not a single guy on this team who isn’t a great guy,” said McCallum to The Canadian Press. “They are character people, and they do everything they have to to get the job done. This is the best group of guys I’ve ever played with.”

Laval men’s hoops looks to build on history

Setting records on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Laval Rouge et Or — awarded a spot in the men’s Final 8 basketball tournament in Quebec City as the host — became the first team in the 61-year history of the national championship to win a title earlier this month after finishing with a conference record below 0.500.

The lowest winning percentage in the regular-season by a national champion heading into 2024 was 0.583 by the 7-5 Guelph Gryphons in 1974, with 6-10 Laval’s 0.375 rate a far cry from the 0.889 combined winning percentage of the previous 60 champions.

WATCH | Laval captures its 1st national title:

Laval beats Queen’s in U Sports men’s basketball final for 1st-ever national title

Laval Rouge et Or defeat Queen’s Gaels 77-71 in the gold medal game of the U Sports men’s basketball national championship.

But if how the season ended is any indication, this isn’t a record Laval will be likely to challenge going forward.

As a team littered with key young contributors, featuring RSEQ rookie of the year guard Willem Mwanza and third-year RSEQ first-team all-star forward Haris Elezovic, the Rouge et Or will look to build on a 4-2 finish to the season as well as a 3-0 run at nationals to improve on its regular-season play next year as well as its semifinal exit to Concordia in the RSEQ playoffs.

Second-year forward Ismael Diouf stole the show as tournament MVP in Quebec City, recording three straight double-doubles in a 75-69 quarterfinal win over top-seed Victoria, an 85-74 victory over AUS champion Dalhousie in the semifinals, and a 77-71 win over No. 2 Queen’s in the championship – the latter of which included a career-high 26 points.

Other young stars during title season

  • A pair of second-year McMaster wrestlers in Serena DiBenedetto (women’s 53-kg) and Gregor McNeil (men’s 68-kg) stayed perfect in varsity competition this season by going 4-0 at the 2024 U Sports wrestling championships in Guelph, Ont., on Mar. 2, en route to national gold. Brock women’s wrestlers Mia Friesen (third-year) and Brianna Fraser (second-year) each defended their national titles in the 56-kg and 83-kg classes, respectively, to go a perfect 2-0 on the national stage.
  • 22-year-old Isaac Heslinga drove in a game-high 28 kills for the University of Alberta men’s volleyball team in a 3-2 nationals final victory over Sherbrooke on Sunday, which tied the Golden Bears with Winnipeg and Manitoba for the most ever at 10. Heslinga earned tournament MVP in the process.
  • Second-year Jordyn Verbeek backstopped a Concordia team that surrendered just two goals in three games at nationals in Saskatoon over the weekend to become the first U Sports women’s hockey team to win nationals with an undefeated conference record since RSEQ rival McGill accomplished the feat in 2010-11.
  • Elsewhere in the U Sports world, Trevor Longo of the Queen’s men’s hockey team and 36 other students helped raise an astounding $338,344 for the Cure Cancer Classic from its seventh annual Commerce-Engineering Rivalry Game in Kingston, Ont., on Thursday to bring their yearly total to $624,103. The funds raised will directly support the Canadian Cancer Society.

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