Athletics Review: May 25, 2010

Tennis
The SMUS tennis team traveled to the 2010 Islands with the high expectations that come with an undefeated season. Things started as well as we could have hoped. Our boys doubles teams, consisting of Mitch Wiggins, Alfredo Gonzales, Victor Shang, and Alex Preis carried the load, winning all four of their sets. Those wins, coupled with the wins in singles and mixed doubles courtesy of Paula Weech and Justus Koenigs (seemingly automatic wins for SMUS in 2010), gave us a 7-4 victory over Brentwood.

The next match, against a depleted Lambrick squad was a 10-1 blowout and gave a variety of players the opportunity to see some action. As the number one seed SMUS entered the semifinals in what should have been the most advantageous position; however, as luck would have it, a very strong Shawnigan team was upset by GNS, forcing a premature playoff between the top two teams on the Island.

While SMUS played hard, we came up short in key matchups, ending the tennis season far too quickly for everyone’s taste. A strong showing with an unfortunate end captures the essence of the 2010 Island Championships. However, if the returning players continue to work hard throughout the next year, SMUS will undoubtedly come away with a far more favorable outcome in 2011.

Junior Rugby
A busy and important week saw four games played, two at Grade 9 level and two at 1st XV level.
At the younger age group, the squad travelled first to North Vancouver, for a return engagement with powerful Carson Graham. Any hope of a flowing, open game was sabotaged by the relentless rain, which pounded down from the opening kickoff right to the end.

Nonetheless, with Dawit Workie’s kicking from flyhalf gaining lots of territory, SMUS hung in throughout, and, following a Fynn Kehl try, narrowed an early deficit to 26-17. However, a late turnover allowed the host Eagles one final score.
The next day, this time at Oak Bay, the team weathered an early home onslaught and bounced back impressively to lead 10-5 through much of the second half. A late Oak Bay tally leveled the contest at 10-10, but the result still represented for SMUS a significant improvement – they were defeated by the same team three weeks earlier. As usual, Keenan Manhas, Marcus Lelewski and Sam Reid stepped up, while the addition of Dave Pollen steadied the backline.

Next week, the Grade 9 and 10 players take part in the 1st Annual SMUS Junior Boys Sevens Tournament. Then, the Grade 10 team will travel to Oak Bay for a return engagement, anxious to reverse the disappointment of a 17-15 Alumni Weekend defeat.

Senior Rugby
The 1st XV, absolutely riddled with injury and illness, had to field several 2nd XV players and give debuts to Grade 10 players Derek Hyde-Lay, Joe Erlic, Jeff Nishima and Forrest Paton in a key playoff match vs Reynolds. With BC AAA qualification on the line, an early try by Mike Fuailefau settled nerves, and the team, with fullback Eric Beban notching two tallies and three conversions, put enough play together to advance 31-0. All the newcomers performed with credit.
This win advanced the team to the Howard Russell final against an in-form Oak Bay side. Effective use of a strong wind, a tactic lacking in previous games, allowed SMUS to go to the break 7-5 ahead. However, playing into the elements in the second half was always going to prove problematic, and so it proved. At 13-7 down, a critical SMUS handling area near the goal-line gave Oak Bay position to punch in the crucial try, with the eventual 25-12 home score-line a fair reflection on 70 minutes of play.

For SMUS, Zac Austin, moved up to prop, enjoyed another stellar outing, while Eali Hopper, Nishima and Joe Furness formed an all action backrow. Joe Shan marked his welcome return from a knee complaint with a superb display, anchoring the scrum and popping up time and time again in defence around the rucks and mauls.

The loss, on the heels of the other recent defeats, condemned SMUS to a #10 seed in the upcoming provincial championships and a place in the tournament’s toughest quarter of the draw. Still, there is cause for optimism. A repeat of the gritty effort displayed by a seriously outmanned side vs Oak Bay and the possible return from injury of key performers such as Marc vander Wal, Luke McLoskey, Jure Erlic, and Reed Plasterer suggests that the team could return to the form of seven weeks ago, when seeded #2 in the province and a very real medal contender.

Next, the 1st XV begins BC AAA play with an opening round contest against powerful Yale.

Other rugby news of note sees the Canada U20 side playing in Moscow for the iRB World Trophy. The team is captained by Andrew Crow ’08, with fellow 2008 SMUS grad Beau Parker also in the squad. So far, the team has beaten Zimbabwe 22-6 but lost to the host Russians 17-15. A critical pool match vs. Japan remains, with the winner almost certainly advancing to the tournament final and facing either Italy or Uruguay.

Track and Field
The 2010 track and field season came to a close this week with the completion of the Island championships held on May 19th and 20th. Although no senior athletes secured a berth to the upcoming provincial championships, strong performances were delivered by Austin Smith in the 8oo metres as well as Musu Ofusu, Emily Mulroney, Jim Wei and Adain Morrice in the 100 and 200 sprint events. Leo Marchand ran an excellent 3000m, finishing 4th and narrowly missing a chance to compete in the provincial meet. On the junior team, Allie White placed an impressive 3rd place in the shot put and challenged the top runners in both the 800 and 200 metre races, while Lindon Carter ran an outstanding 200 metre race to finish 3rd in an extremely competitive 200 metre final. Congratulations to all the competitors and finalists that took part in a busy and productive season.

Middle School Rugby
Grade 6 and 7 rugby rounded out their spring season by traveling to St. George’s School, Vancouver to play in the ISA tournament. Three teams were entered, one team playing in the open weight division and two teams in the under 115lb division.

After an early departure from SMUS and a ferry ride, all three teams were quickly into action. The Grade 6 team, playing their first ever games with scrums and lineouts, opened up against St. George’s and garnered a nice win. With little rest, they were back into action against Collingwood and, despite some very good play, a draw resulted.
After some lunch and a rest, they then faced Mulgrave who proved a little too strong on the day. All 15 players received plenty of playing time and there were several notable performers on the day, but none more so than flyhalf Jonas Robinson, fullback Mark Piazza, centre Tyler Strandberg, and centre/lock Connor Fenton.

The Grade 7 lights team with two Grade 6 players, moving up from 9-aside to 11-aside 5-man scrum play, began their day against one of two St. George’s teams. Unfortunately, this ended in a close loss, despite some promising play. After a break, they quickly rebounded though with a win against the second St. George’s team, before ending their day with a close loss to Collingwood. Thirteen players were involved on the day, with centre/wing Dave Lee leading the way, along with good performances by flyhalf/centre Jake Wilmott, fullback/centre Austin Vaza and utility forward Doug Peerless.

The open weight Grade 7 team that also included two Grade 6 players, playing 12-aside, opened their day against Collingwood where they scored soon after the kick off. Collingwood were not going to go down easy though, but in continuing to play their free open running and wide passing style, the team scored a deserved win.

With only a few minutes rest, the team were back in action against a large and powerful St. George’s side. The game was a contrast of styles with St. George’s, who were playing a direct approach making use of their size advantage while the SMUS team looked to use their skill and handling abilities. Both teams traded tries throughout, before St. George’s unfortunately took the lead with only a few minutes remaining. Despite their best efforts and some solid scrums to regain possession, the team ran out of time to get the tying score. There is no doubt that these two teams will meet in several close match ups in the years ahead.

After some lunch and rest, a somewhat tired side was back out for their final match against Mulgrave. The toils of the previous game had clearly had their effect as the side struggled to find their rhythm and were down three tries at the half. After a few pointed halftime words, the team played with far more vigour in the second half in not letting any more tries against them and scoring three of their own, the last right at fulltime to end the game as a draw. All 14 players deserve credit for the day’s play, with many making telling tackles against much larger opponents, as well as playing with much skill.

Top performers on the day were prop Jack Sherrod who was a tower of strength in the scrum and ran strongly with ball in hand, centre Max Pollen who contributed tremendously both in attack and defence, winger Alex Caton who ran with much purpose, and Grade 6 lock/wing Ryan Totz who showed much promise for the future.

All-in-all 45 Grade 6 and 7 players were involved in spring rugby, and all developed most positively for the future. The Grade 6’s can look ahead to next February when practices will begin again for them, whilst the Grade 7’s can look forward the start up of rugby again for them in September for the fall season and the promise of a tour to Australia over spring break.

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