Island's top athletes among finalists for Sport P.E.I. senior awards

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Six athletes who enjoyed an outstanding 2015 will be in contention for the Bell Aliant senior male and female athlete of the year honours when they are presented at the annual awards evening Wednesday at the Rodd Charlottetown Hotel. 

Carsen Campbell (biathlon), Jeff Ellsworth (softball) and Brett Gallant (curling) are all in contention for the male award, while on the female side the finalists are Caitlin Campbell (biathlon), Shannon MacAulay (hockey) and Jenna Smith (Special Olympics tenpin bowling).

Campbell is committed to a successful career in biathlon, and in 2015 the Central Bedeque native made great strides to achieving his goals, earning selection for the Canadian IBU Cup team to compete on the international circuit.   

In Minsk at the world juniors he was the top individual Canadian and he enjoyed a successful national championship, reaching the podium three times and winning the junior sprint title.

Ellsworth says he is retiring from international softball to further his coaching career, and if so the Brooklyn native can look back on 2015 as arguably the most successful of his career. 

Considered one of the world's best outfielders, team captain Ellsworth led Canada to two major titles in 2015 - the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship in Saskatoon, and the Pan Am Games in Toronto. In both competitions he led by example both with his hitting and defence.

Ellsworth earned a third world title with the Hill United Chiefs, and he just failed to make it a perfect set when he settled for a silver at the Canadian championships with the East Hants Mastodons of Nova Scotia.

Charlottetown's Brett Gallant may be wearing the colours of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the Brad Gushue rink, but he still gets lots of Island support, and 2015 was a fine year for Brett.

Playing second stone, Gallant and the Gushue rink picked up three major Grand Slam events in the past 12 months, including most recently The National. They have also been runners-up at the Tour Challenge and Canadian Open.

A great attempt at the Briar was derailed in the playoffs after going 9-2, but this year the team is off to a great start with a number of tournament wins and more major hardware may yet be coming their way.

 Like her brother Carsen, Caitlin Campbell is a rising star in Canadian biathlon. 

Campbell enjoyed fine results at the Canada Games, placing in the top-10, and she helped the girls relay team to a fine fifth-place finish. 

Campbell won two golds at the Atlantics, secured a podium finish at the Quebec Cup and in December became the first Island female to be named to a Canadian team when she qualified for this month's world championships in Romania, courtesy of two wins at the national team trials in Canmore, Alta. 

MacAulay was also golden in 2015, helping the Canadian women's development team win hockey gold last January at the Nations Cup in Germany.

It was another milestone for the strong forward from Mount Herbert, and she was named assistant captain for the team's most recent win at the Nations Cup tournament. In the national women's league 2015 draft, she was selected 19th overall by the Boston Pride.

A fine leader, she is captain of NCAA Division 1 Clarkson University, and in 2015 she had a career-high 33 points and won conference all-star honours. 

Sport is about good news stories and Ellerslie's Jenna Smith's thee gold medals at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015 was one of the best.

The tenpin bowler earned her selection following her gold-medal performances at the 2014 nationals, and in L.A. she was on fire, taking first place in the singles, doubles and team events.

The Special Olympics athlete of the year, Smith returned home to a hero's welcome, with a parade in her honour in Tyne Valley.

Compiled by Sport P.E.I.'s communications officer Nick Murray.

2015 Amateur Sport Awards

What - The annual awards presented by Sport P.E.I. at its gala banquet.

When - Feb. 3.

Where - Rodd Charlottetown Hotel.

Tickets - Tickets for the awards reception and presentations are available for $25 by contacting Nick Murray at Sport P.E.I., at 902-368-4547.

Organizations: Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, Bell Aliant, International Softball Federation Pan Am Hill United Chiefs Canada Games Boston Pride NCAA Clarkson University Special Olympics World Games

Geographic location: Central Bedeque, Minsk, Brooklyn Canada Saskatoon Toronto Nova Scotia Charlottetown Newfoundland and Labrador Quebec Romania Canmore Germany Mount Herbert Los Angeles L.A. Tyne Valley

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