The number of schools participating in the Ontario University curling championships took another leap this year with a total of 27 teams — 14 women’s and 13 men’s — descending on Guelph Curling Club starting Thursday Feb. 17 and ending Monday. The University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo are all contenders in both genders. Last season, both men’s and women’s teams from Guelph and Laurier went on to the CIS championships.
In women’s play, Laura Crocker from Laurier is the defending Ontario and national champion and favourite going in especially after winning a gold medal at the Karuizawa International Curling Invitational. The team for OUAs has Crocker joined by Sarah Wilkes, Jen Gates, Pam Feldkamp and alternates Cheryl Kreviazuk and Kerilynn Mathers
“The girls prepared for Karuizawa with long-term results in mind,” said coach Maurice Wilson. “The (Canadian Curling Association) were preparing them to be future world and Olympic champions, not just ICC or CIS champs. That said if they stay in the present and rely on the process and not think about results they will be fine.”
For Guelph, Clancy Grandy returns to skip the women’s with teammates Katelyn Wasylkiw, Heather Cridland, Erin Jenkins, Emilie Metcalfe and Andrea Sinclair.
Grandy’s team is slightly different then the rink that lost the final against Laurier last season since third Jaclyn Rivington graduated
“Their goal is obvious of course,” said coach Jason Rice. “We’ve changed the lineup a little bit. We are coming together quite nicely going into OUAs.”
The Waterloo rink led by Kaitlin Stubbs with Kendall Haymes, Frances Pritchard and Molly Hunter, Maeve Lawlor should also be near the top.
Waterloo has been very strong in exhibition play in both genders. The women have posted an 8-3-2 record while the men’s rink of Jake Walker, Ed Cyr, Geoff Chambers, James Freeman and Nathan Ransom posted an 11-1-1 record.
“Where we have placed ourselves as the team to beat during pre-championship play it should be noted that we have not seen or played all the teams that will compete in the provincials,” said Warriors coach Scott Allen.
Gary Crossley, coach of the Laurier men agrees Waterloo will be strong.
“Obviously (the men) will be ranked very high. I think we will be able to compete with them.”
The Laurier Golden Hawks men’s team is made up of several players that made a splash through Ontario junior playdowns this season with Richard Krell, Fraser Reid, Aaron Squires and Joel Waters. Alternates are Shane Konings and Spencer Nuttall.
The Guelph Gryphons men’s rink has also gone through changes.
“I think that we would be somewhere in the middle of the pack. Last year everything came together at the right time and we are hoping for the same thing to happen again this year,” said coach Brad Sheridan.
The Gryphons are made up of Kevin Lagerquist, Adam Leger, Carson Welsh, Bryan Mitchell and Adam Tombasso.