Athletics Week in Review: May 12

Senior badminton traveled to Nanaimo last week to compete in the Island Championships. Historically, SMUS has performed very well at this event, and, once again, held the top seed going into the tournament. However, this position would be balanced somewhat by the fact standouts Sara Cui and Theo Wu ​were unavailable, due to Grade 9 out-trip commitments.

Nonetheless, in opening round action, SMUS, led by co-captains Ryan Cui and Airlia Hie, played solidly to defeat Alberni District Secondary 8-3. Then, the team rose to the occasion in its best performance of the season, thumping Oak Bay 10-1. Jake You won both his singles and the mixed doubles matches in impressive style as the Blue Jags moved into the final against Mount Douglas.

Although SMUS had won narrowly twice against the same opponent in Victoria league play, the team, without two key starters, entered this championship match as underdogs. Sparked by Blair Zheng and Renee Guan, the Blue Jags surprised Mount Doug in taking the opening rounds. More good news followed immediately after, as Chad Hou won his singles match. Then, with belief growing, Sonia Sun and Pasit Laothamatas had the games of their lives, vaulting SMUS to a fabulous 7-4 victory.

Coach Jeff Hunt called this Island title “the best all-round team effort in school history.” High praise indeed, as SMUS now heads to the May 28-30 Provincial Championships in Kamloops as the No. 1 seed from the Island.

Senior girls soccer ​then became the sixth SMUS team to capture an Island Senior title this year. The squad negotiated its way through the opening day of play, not always firing on all cylinders but doing enough to down Carihi 2-0 and Nanaimo District Secondary 3-1. These two results allowed the Blue Jags to top their pool and qualify directly for the final the following day versus North No. 1 Ballenas.

In a close and riveting contest, SMUS, producing its best effort of the season, managed to ride a 52nd minute strike by Gabby Freer to triumph 1-0. Aveen Glen, in concert with defenders Taylor Noel, Chloe Fitzgibbon and Sam Biberdorf, smothered the opponent’s star striker, while Anna Mollenhauer was rock solid in goal.

Sisters Flora and Maggie Manson-Blair controlled the midfield, while, up front, Rachel Olson, Siri Knudsen, Robyn Noel and Claudia Wheler constantly pressured the Whaler defence.

The team now moves on the BC AA Tournament May 28-30 in Burnaby.

SMUS rowing took part in the May 8-10 Shawnigan Regatta, where, for the first time in several years, mother nature produced wonderfully warm weather and, consequently, a competition that ran on time.

Pride of place went to the Junior A Women 4+, with Sun-Eui Choi, Acacia Welsford, Juliane Pohl, Julianna Wong and Chloe White capturing a gold medal. A 63-kg crew, they won the open division.

Further congratulations to the Junior A 63kg Women 8+ and Junior B Men 4+ silver medalists, as well as to Valerie Swanston and Radha Raina, who won their Novice B Girls 2X at long odds and were in contention to record an upset win in the final, before being caught in rough water near the finish line. Also just missing the podium were the Junior B Women 4+, Junior A Men 4+ and Junior A Women 1X, while other finalists included Jr B Novice Women 2X, Jr B Men 2X, Jr B Men 8+, Jr A Men 2-, Jr A Novice Women 4X+ and Junior A Men Novice 4X+.

Special thanks to Colin Knightley, out with an injury, who has been so supportive of his teammates on race days, and to all the graduating seniors. Best of luck to the 23 athletes who now continue their preparation for the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association Championships, scheduled for June 2-7 in St. Catharine’s, Ontario.

For the 1st XV rugby ​team, a May 7 away game to Brentwood, on the heels of the exciting Alumni Day victory over Oak Bay, was always going to be a challenge, and so it proved. Indeed, the hosts carried play for most of the first half, and were very unlucky to go to intermission down 14-0 after a brace of Max Pollen tries.

When a superb length-of-the-field counter attack brought Brentwood back to 14-5, it was game on. Fortunately, SMUS upped its effort and concentration, with Lucas De Vries scoring twice in short order. Further tallies from Aidan Cole, Sam Platt and Owen Sudul, and five Matty McColl conversions added some gloss to a contest that was much closer than the final scoreline indicated.

May 11 then saw SMUS ease through its City semi-final versus Esquimalt. John Cook set the tone early with two short range tries, while Angus Catto and De Vries also notched a pair. Both Victor Rosenberg and Henri Gotzel did well in their 1st XV debuts. The Blue Jags now move to the City final versus GNS on Thursday, May 14th.

Meanwhile, the Juniors backed up their Alumni Day upset of Oak Bay by performing even better in the City semi-final. A wonderful, all-round performance in this game saw the team reverse a league loss to Claremont with a comprehensive 41-12 victory. Donovan Sturdy, Jon Sudul, Sam Kahn, Bryce Forbes and Nick Papaloukas were just a few from a group who tackled bravely from start to finish, and registered some very attractive multi-phase tries.

Finally, in squash, Grace Thomas, following an excellent performance at the recent Canadian Juniors tournament in Toronto, has been named to the National Junior team that will compete at the World Championships this summer in Amsterdam.

Vivat!

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