SMUS athletics teams saved the best for last, producing a spectacular final week of performances to close the 2017-18 extracurricular sporting season.
Pride of place went to Senior girls soccer team. Over five games in Kamloops, at the BC AA tournament, the Blue Jags bent but never broke, showing tremendous grit, resilience and senior leadership in capturing the provincial title.
After relatively straightforward wins vs Smithers and Okanagan Mission, the team had to dig deep to fend off a very talented Archbishop Carney side. Aysha Emmerson’s 30th minute equalizer stood up in a 1-1 tie which allowed SMUS to win the pool and advance to the final four.
In the semi-final, against pre-tournament favourite St. Thomas More, the Blue Jags were under considerable pressure throughout. However, an opportunistic strike by Chloe Fitzgibbon, and then, ten minutes from time, a far post header by Taylor Noel, secured a dramatic 2-1 victory.
The final, vs Collingwood, was another close run affair, with the Cavaliers having the edge in possession and territory for much of regulation and extra time. But a rock solid SMUS defence ensured the game went to penalty kicks. In a pressure packed environment, goalkeeper Kaia Gyorfi completed a wonderful tournament by saving three of four shots. Goals by Noel, MVP Sara Cui and then Emmerson duly clinched the championship.
Track and Field
In Langley, a small but extremely talented team punched well above its weight. Nathan von Hagen got the party started with a personal best, silver medal 12.90m in the Triple Jump. Cordel Tromp then turned in a personal best in the Senior girls 200m.
Still, the Junior girls ended up the showstoppers. First, Kenzie Farish won the Triple Jump with a leap of 10.81m. She then missed the podium by the tiniest of margins in the 300m hurdles. Lauren Randall-Guy continued the momentum with a personal best 2.18.43 in the 800m, claiming a bronze medal in the process.
Then, Angelina Shandro set not one, but two meet records, winning gold in both the 400m (56.30) and 200m (25.20) races. To cap three terrific days of racing, she then teamed with Farish, Randall-Guy and Suzie Stone in the 4 x 400m relay. This talented quartet duly shattered the provincial record by over four seconds with a time of 4.02.30.
In St. Catharines, Ontario, 27 SMUS athletes took part in the 72nd edition of the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association Championships. This marquee event featured some 2000 competitors, representing over 120 schools from across Canada and USA. The Junior Women’s 4+, featuring Firinne Rolfe, Hannah Look, Bella Knezevic, Grace Couchman and cox Jaime Chow, captured a bronze medal. Five other boats qualified for finals, with the Senior Women’s Quad, Junior Women’s 8+ and Junior Men’s 4+ missing the podium by very narrow margins.
The Blue Jags backed up their Island title and subsequent high seeding in the BC AA tournament by polishing off Prince of Wales and Archbishop Carney in the opening rounds. However, the quarterfinal, vs West Point Grey Academy, was an entirely different kettle of fish, with SMUS needing to dig deep to win 7-4.
The semi-final, played in scorching afternoon heat vs Kelowna’s Immaculata, came down to the men’s doubles match, with Alex Ross and Tony Liu operating wonderfully under pressure to pick up the clinching win. This moved SMUS, for the second straight year, into the provincial final, against defending champion Collingwood. Though fielding a powerful squad which included a nationally ranked singles player, the Cavaliers were pushed to their absolute limit, eventually winning 7-4, but not before two of the sets went to a tie break.
Matthias Hoenisch and Karina Morales were two of the remaining members of the SMUS squad who played very well.
The badminton team, seeded #9 at the BCs in Richmond, opened with decisive victories, dropping only a single match in downing Duchess Park 11-0 and MacNeill 10-1. However, perennial provincial power Richmond then flexed its muscles in consigning the Blue Jags to a second-place pool finish with an 8-3 win.
In the round of 16, SMUS, led by Reven Liu, Wilson Ye and Theo Wu, accounted for Burnaby Mountain 8-3 before then losing a 6-5 heartbreaker to Sir Winston Churchill in the quarterfinals. This set up a final match vs JN Burnett, with the team prevailing 8-3 en route to a solid 7th place overall finish.
At the provincial rugby championships, the three time defending AA champion 1st XV opened with a comfortable 36-14 victory over Langley. Yet, despite a brave defensive effort, the squad then fell to Brentwood in the semi-finals. Despite this disappointment, the players, with Harry Shaw to the fore, did bounce back to win the bronze medal, running in several quality tries in accounting for a big and physical GW Graham side 54-7. Bolu Ososami, Kason Grewal, Nick Papaloukas, Kiikpoye Ode, Luke Rainier-Pope, Matt Hagkull and Ephraim Hsu also performed well.
At the Junior level, SMUS made its first appearance in the BC final four. While the semifinal against Shawnigan was a bridge too far, the Blue Jags rebounded wonderfully to finish third with an impressive 43-8 victory vs Abbotsford. While hard to single out particular players in a fine team effort, Mark Finamore, Ben Shaw, Max Nishima, Josh Mao, Will Kinahan and Andres Vega-Perez were their usual influential selves while Julian Fitzgibbon enjoyed a very solid tournament at fullback.
The AA golf provincials took place at Talking Rock Golf Resort in Chase. An opening day total of 329, with Jack Rothwell and Sonja Tang both carding 79s, left SMUS in third place. Tang’s brilliant second round 72, the lowest round of the tournament, left her just two strokes from winning medalist honours, with the team managing a combined 326 to remain in third place and take the bronze medal.
Finally, to cap a wonderful week, three members of the senior class were in the news. First, Gyorfi and Gabby Freer signed with UBC to play varsity softball with the Thunderbirds this fall.
Then, Brooke (Erisa Sano) Herring’s dream squash season continued, as she was named to represent Japan in the Youth Olympic Games, set to be held October 7-12 in Buenos Aires. She is one of eighteen male and eighteen female players nominated regionally in Asia, Europe, Americas, Africa and Oceania, and then selected by the World Squash Federation.