Pye is Brock’s best man; Major award and club team winners
On Wednesday, Clayton Pye scratched the last item off his university wrestling to-do list.
During Brock’s athletic awards ceremony that was live streamed on the Brock Badgers’ Instagram account, the 24-year-old wrestler was named the school’s male athlete of the year.
“I am honoured because it is something that I had my eye on from my very first year at Brock,” the Ingersoll native said. “It was definitely a goal of mine.”
Having to watch the awards on-line because of the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t quite how he envisioned it.
“It was definitely odd not being able to dress up, go out, celebrate and accept the plaque and stuff,” he said. “It was a little bit sad but I am happy to leave on a good note with a team victory and a personal gold for myself.”
The fourth-year psychology student concluded his collegiate career with two U Sports’ gold medals, two bronzes and one silver. Time has flown by but it doesn’t really like the end of his Brock chapter.
“I am going to be sticking around to wrestle club and I don’t think I am going to be too upset about being done and over with it,” he said. “I think I will still feel part of the team because I will get to work with the new team and help train up and coming athletes.”
For Pye, it’s a no-brainer to continue to train in St. Catharines.
“They are the best,” he said. “I have a really great family here too of teammates and coaches. I can rely on them and I know they always have my back whether it be on the mats or anywhere else in my life.”
The 2019-2020 campaign was a breakthrough season for Pye, highlighted by his victory at the Olympic trials last December in Niagara Falls.
“The Olympic trials was a thing that was pushing me hard over the last year and I focussed in,” he said. “I stopped my job for a little bit to really focus on wrestling because I really wanted to make Team Canada.
“That has been my goal for a lot of years. I was on the cusp and I just needed to break through.”
Pye is OK with the decision of the International Olympic Committee to postpone this summer’s Tokyo Olympics until 2021.
“It makes sense whether or not I get to go,” he said. “It is up in the air and I need to win a qualifier to be recognized by the Olympic committee. Until then, I will just be focusing on getting better at wrestling and that is my main mission right now.”
Pye failed to earn one of two qualifying spots at the recent Pan American qualifier in Ottawa, but he learned a lot.
“It’s a different stage and it is not something that I am used to,” he said. “You are up against athletes you have never seen before and can’t get tape on and you just have to go out there, be the better wrestler, do your thing and not worry about all the lights, cameras and that sort of thing.”
Pye, who works as a residence supervisor at Brock, has shut down his training because of the pandemic, but the forced break comes at a good time.
“I have been training hard for the last year without any breaks so I was going to take a break after Pan Ams anyway,” he said. “Whether or not it was going to be this long is a different story, but I am pretty content with taking a little bit of a step back.
But he hasn’t completely shut to down.
“I am training at home and still thinking about wrestling and practising in my head.”
Other major award winners announced Wednesday were: Hannah Taylor, female athlete of the year; Mike Rao, coach of the year: Basketball, female team of the year; Wrestling, male team of the year: Celine Funk and Gokhan Bozyigit, David S. Howes Spirit of Brock Awards; Darby Taylor, David Atkinson Surgite Award; George Bocock, RM Davis Surgite Award; and, Mackenzie Gerry, Marilou Iusi Memorial Service Award.
Following are the award winners from Brock’s Club teams:
Track and field: Monica Binotto, women’s MVP; Paulina Sergnese, women’s top rookie; Tyrell Smikle, men’s MVP; Caleb Crawford, men’s top rookie.
Women’s lacrosse: Lindsey Highfield, women’s MVP; Riana Botnick, women’s top rookie.
Figure skating: Delaney Dunford, women’s MVP; Hayley Keith, women’s top rookie.
Ringette: Karlee Sutton, women’s MVP; Samantha Hood, women’s top rookie.
Softball: Madison Clinton and Grace Blamauer, women’s MVPs; Holly Hanchiruk, women’s top rookie.
Ball hockey: Chris Genier, men’s MVP; Tyler Gubesch, men’s top rookie.
Equestrian: Megan Bush, women’s MVP; Zjaya Doman, women’s top rookie.
Ultimate Frisbee: Neelima Basra, women’s MVP; Haley Lang, women’s top rookie; Danny Collins, men’s MVP; Jacob White, men’s top rookie.
Powerlifting: Mackenzie Rose, women’s MVP; Caitlin Perry, women’s top rookie; Malcolm Sanderson, men’s MVP; Nicolas Sestili, men’s top rookie.
Tennis: Liana Biktimirova, women’s MVP; Nadine Klajman, women’s top rookie; Noah Stickney, men’s MVP; Nicholas Murdaca, men’s top rookie
Dance Pak: Shania Walden, women’s MVP; Lauren Burn, women’s top rookie.
Dragon boat: Remylee Agbuyam women’s MVP; Ashley Clark, women’s top rookie; Sean Sabbatini, men’s MVP; Aws Al Jumaily, men’s top rookie.