Athletics Week in Review: April 21

The spring season has kicked into high gear, with numerous teams on the go.

This past weekend, seven members of the Senior School squash team traveled to Calgary to compete in the Junior Squash Nationals. Our team had a number of top results including a podium finish. The courts were extremely bouncy at the altitude and in the warm facility, which resulted in extended rallies and long, hard-fought matches.

For two students, it was their first time competing at Nationals. Lucas Galloway (Grade 8) won his first match 3 games to 1. This set up a match with the fifth seed who proved too much for our up-and-coming star. Lucas then played a fellow B.C. boy and lost in 4 close games. Lucas is only 13 and will be in the same category next season, so expect to see him continue to rise up the ranks. Aamir Djearam (Grade 9) only took up squash competitively last fall. Aamir lost all of his matches, but won 3 games. In his final match, Aamir was up 2 games to love and lost 11-8 in the fifth. Aamir left it all out on the court, including his shoe!

Euan Hannigan (Grade 10) competed in the boys U17. Euan lost his first match in 4 against a very evenly matched opponent. Euan won his second match in straight games before losing his last one in 3. Robert Fisher (Grade 11) lost his first match to one of the top seeds in the U19 draw. Robert then lost to a boy from B.C. in 3 close games. Robert dropped down to the bronze, where he breezed through his first match. Robert was then down 2 games to love before storming back and winning in 5 against a higher-ranked opponent. Robert lost in the finals of the bronze in 4 close games.

Our youngest team member, Alex Brown (Grade 5), played in the U13 division and won 1 match and lost 2. In the final match she lost a tight 3-1 to the No. 7-ranked player in the country. In her first year of the U17, Madison Liew (Grade 10) won her first match 3-1 against a girl from Calgary. She then went on to lose to the top seed and eventual champion, but fought hard and played well. In the consolation, Madison went on to beat the No. 15-ranked player in her division in straight games. Madison then lost her next match in a tight 4 games.

Grace Thomas (Grade 11) turned 17 last month and just moved up into the U19. Grace demonstrated, once again, that she is a force to be reckoned with on the national stage. Grace won her first match in 3, which set up a SMUS-SS-Grace-Nationalsmatch-up with a girl from the University of Pennsylvania, a year older and higher ranked. Grace played some of her best squash of the season and won 20-18 in the third game. This set up a semifinal with the second-seeded player from Ontario. Grace had trouble with the pace of the top player and lost in 3. The tournament wasn’t over for Grace, though. The following day she had to come back and play for third place against another girl from Ontario – someone who she’d never beat before, until this weekend! Grace returned to SMUS with a well-earned bronze medal! Grace keeps raising her game and is poised to be one of the favourites at next year’s nationals. In a few weeks, she’ll fly to Toronto to try out for the Junior Girls Nationals Team that will compete in the World Juniors in Netherlands this summer.

This wraps up the competitive season for the squash team. Overall was a fantastic season. Grace led the way with many titles and top finishes. Meanwhile our younger players have their first competitive season under their belt and are well on their way to following in Grace’s footsteps. We wish our seniors all the best moving forward. Uma Hallea, Ryan Cui, Leif Skogland and Hedvika Suchankova will all be missed next year. We wish them all the best of luck and plenty of success on and off the squash court.

SMUS badminton, after a stumble earlier in the week to Claremont, rebounded nicely to convincingly beat Oak Bay. The squad now has a record of 2-1 and is tied for first in the local league standings. Grade 12 students Airlia Hie, Blair Zheng, Renee Guan, Kyle Tang and Ryan Cui have all performed extremely well and now look forward to a crucial April 21 match-up versus Mount Douglas.

In track and field, 25 athletes competed in the fourth league meet of the season. Highlights included Conrad Chin winning the Senior boys javelin, while Salvador Villagomez likewise won the gold medal in the Bantam boys shot put. On the track, distance runners Megan Harrison, Robyn Noel and Michael Wong-Harrison all performed well in the 1,500-metre race. Lucas Simpson splashed his way to a fine finish in an exciting steeplechase event, while sprinters Gabby Freer, Kenny Shokoya and Abdul Shokoya posted stellar times in the 100-metre sprints. Indeed, the latter’s 11.40 was the fastest time posted so far this year.​

In soccer, the Senior girls finished 2-2 in the highly competitive UVic Invitational tournament. Opening versus South Delta, the Blue Jags just failed to finish some grade A scoring chances early in the game, hitting both the post and crossbar. Finally, in the last minute, Claudia Wheler found space to slot home the winner. Goalkeeper Sam Biberdorf anchored a solid defensive performance with a shutout.

Now in the championship tier, SMUS met Edmonton’s Harry Ainlay High School in quarterfinal action. In a very even contest, the Titans, scoring in the 40th minute, advanced by the single goal. However, SMUS then bounced back against Belmont, a local AAA powerhouse. From a corner kick late in the first half, a Robyn Noel header was blocked only by a defender’s hand ball. From the ensuing penalty kick, Wheler connected for a 1-0 lead. While further chances were unsuccessful, the team again played well defensively to secure the victory.

On the final day, SMUS failed to find any offensive rhythm in a 2-0 loss to GNS. For the first time all weekend, some loose clearances resulted in costly goals against. Still, the event was a success for what is a young team. Taylor Noel, Aveen Glen, Rachel Olson and Chloe Fitzgibbon were solid across the back, while Flora and Maggie Manson-Blair featured prominently in midfield. Siri Knudsen supported Robyn Noel well up front, while Wheler was named to the all-tournament team.

Next up is an April 23 match-up versus Lambrick Park, with the winner taking the AA City league title. SMUS then hosts the ISA tournament April 24-25.

In rugby, the Juniors enjoyed an exhibition tilt at Esquimalt. In a high-scoring match, the hosts prevailed 44-37, despite the best efforts of Ephraim Hsu. At 2nd XV level, SMUS defeated Reynolds 38-10 in Tier 2 league action before dropping an exciting 34-24 contest to Edward Milne. Artem Sakhbiev and Jasper Bosley played extremely well in both contests.

At 1st XV level, SMUS traveled to North Vancouver to take on Collingwood. In a very even game, the Blue Jags prevailed 17-8. Lucas De Vries finished strongly to record a brace of tries, while Owen Sudul also crossed after a neat chip kick from Matty McColl.​ Flanker Josh Graffi, centre Josh Kahn and fullback Max Pollen were standouts on attack and defence. The team now prepares for what will be a first-ever encounter with a national U19 side, with Mexico set to provide the opposition on Friday, April 24. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m.

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