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Courtesy David Moll

Dinos scorers leading Canada West in 2015–16

By Sonny Sachdeva, March 1, 2016 —

The 2015–16 season has been a triumphant one for the Dinos varsity teams.

As the CIS schedule pushes into the playoffs, the Dinos can look back and reflect on their dominant effort this past season. For many of the Dinos teams, that dominance took the form of statistical superiority, as the program had eight players lead their sport in at least one category in 2015–16.

For the women’s teams, the Dinos boasted a division-leading scorer on three of their six team-sport rosters.

Iya Gavrilova — captain of the Dinos women’s hockey team — led the Canada West in both goals and total points, amassing 20 goals and 43 points in only 28 games this season. Her linemate and fellow Russian Olympian, Sasha Vafina, finished second in the Canada West in both categories with 14 goals and 35 points.

Dinos women’s basketball guard Claire Colborne currently leads the Canada West with 9.8 rebounds per game. Colborne is tied for the Dinos lead with 13.6 points per game, and has led the team in at least one statistical category in 16 of 20 games this season. Her finest performance came on Nov. 20 against the Victoria Vikes, when she paced the Dinos in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots.

Rounding out the group of top scorers for the women’s teams is Dinos rugby player Elysa Sandron. The second-year fullback/wing led the Canada West in both points and tries, totalling 45 and five respectively. She also finished second in the division with 10 converts, helping the Dinos put together an undefeated season for the first time since joining the CIS in 2009. Her teammate Natasha Loucks wasn’t far behind, tying for third in points and second in tries.

On the men’s side, the Dinos put forth a similarly impressive effort, fielding statistical leaders in three of their five team sports.

The Dinos football team’s indomitable season brought with it a number of division-leading performances. Quarterback Andrew Buckley led all Canada West passers with 3,162 yards and 19 touchdowns. Buckley formed a dangerous season-long connection with receiver Rashaun Simonise, who similarly finished first with 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Calgary’s running game wasn’t any easier to stop. Fourth-year Dinos running back Mercer Timmis finished first in the Canada West with 10 touchdowns to his name. He also holds the 2015–16 season record for the longest rushing play, achieving that feat when he rattled off a 79-yard touchdown run against the University of Manitoba in September. Teammate Jimmy Underdahl — the Dinos’ second-string quarterback — finished second in the Canada West with 10 rushing touchdowns.

Dinos soccer star Dominic Russo put forth one of the most dominant performances of any University of Calgary athlete this season. Russo led the Canada West with 15 goals and 19 total points, helping the Dinos earn a first-place Prairie Division finish with a record of 8–2–2. Russo’s prolific scoring touch earned him a place in the U of C record books, as he became the highest-scoring Dino in the history of the men’s soccer program.

Completing the trio of elite scorers is emerging men’s basketball star Thomas Cooper. Cooper left the United States to join the Dinos this season and has since taken the team on his back, easing the pain of losing former leading scorer Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, who moved on from the program after last season. Cooper currently leads the Canada West with 25.8 points per game and 515 total points — 135 more than the next highest Canada West scorer.

Cooper led the Dinos in points or rebounds in every single one of the team’s 20 games this season. He finished first in points among Dinos players 19 times, first in rebounds 15 times and first in assists eight times. His finest game came earlier this month, when he dropped 42 points on the University of Regina — more than double the total of Regina’s highest scorer in that game — en route to Calgary’s monstrous 115–91 victory.

Suffice to say, 2015–16 season has been a success for the Dinos program as a whole. While the Dinos reigned as some of the Canada West’s best squads, three U of C athletes were also top-ranked in terms of the entire CIS. Buckley’s 3,162 yards ranked first among all CIS passers. Russo’s 19 points similarly led the CIS, as did Gavrilova’s 20 goals and 43 points.

This season’s success follows last year’s exceptional performance from the Dinos, which saw them take home 14 total Canada West awards for team sport performances, alongside five total CIS awards. After another year of outstanding displays from U of C athletes, the Dinos look poised to make their presence known at the upcoming end-of-season awards once again.

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