With the spring athletic term edging to the finish, multiple SMUS teams were again in the thick of the action, either completing City and Island commitments, or playing at the BCs.
SMUS, led by Jackson Rothwell’s dominant -3 performance over 36 holes, won its Island qualifier, finishing 16 shots ahead of runner-up Shawnigan Lake School. Rothwell’s opening 69 set the tone, while Sonja Tang, Jay Park and Sam Whitten also played solidly enough. This quartet, in addition to Owen Delichte, now look forward to the BC AA championships, set for June 3-6 at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort in Parksville.
The Victoria Middle School sevens jamborees took place May 14 and May 16 at SMUS. The Grade 6-7 under 100 lb and under 130 lb teams found the going tough but nonetheless showed resilience, grit and good game understanding. Players of note included Ewan W., Markus D., Will P., Wil W., Noah M., Joshua K. and Kaden F.
The Grade 7-8 under 160 lb squad opened with solid pool victories over Central, Shoreline and Glanford. In a tough semi-final versus a strong Monterey side, resolute defence and quality all-round ball-handling skills saw the team through to the final against Gordon Head. The Blue Jags opened on fire, scoring first and going on to establish an unassailable second-half lead to retain the Kuklinski Cup. As part of a total team effort, Matthew B., Xander L., Diego G., Ethan W. and Tomi C. stood out.
On May 16, the Junior Boys faced a pivotal Island semi-final versus Brentwood. A terrific group effort, with Taiga Kitao, Eddie Kim and Tadeo Allerding forming an abrasive back row, produced a 31-19 victory. Duke Curran, pressed into action in midfield, finished off two fine tries and tackled strongly. The Island final on May 22 was a different matter, with SMUS unable to recover from a poor start at Shawnigan Lake. The hosts established an early 21-0 cushion en route to a well deserved seven tries to three triumph.
The focus shifted quickly for both teams, with knockout BC quarterfinals scheduled for May 25 at UVic’s Wallace Field. Pitted against Langley Secondary, the Fraser Valley runner-up, the Blue Jags just managed to negotiate a tricky encounter, using some close quarter driving play in the face of the heavy rain which made handling treacherous. Somewhat fortunately, tries from Allistair Catto, Toby Wu, Luka Djurickovic and Gareth Coward, as well as one conversion by Lewis Chang, were just enough to advance 22-14. The team now moves to Abbotsford for the final four, facing wild card entry Rockridge in a semi-final.
At the Senior Boys level, SMUS was unable to recapture the underdog magic of a year ago, going down against Oak Bay 43-7 in the Howard Russell Cup final. Costly errors put the Blue Jags immediately under pressure, and while a Ben Shaw try, converted by Will Kinahan, reduced the margin to 24-7 a few minutes after half time, the Barbarians scored three more times to record a comfortable win. However, finally able to field a first choice selection, SMUS bounced back in the Island AA final, turning on the style to defeat Brentwood 57-24. Elvis Duru was on the end of several flowing moves to notch four tries, while Kinahan had a solo score and added six conversions.
The team now moves on to a May 29 BC AA semi-final in Abbotsford, with Brentwood College School set once again to provide the opposition.
Tennis, after two consecutive silver medal finishes at provincials, finally scaled the mountain, playing wonderfully well in winning five consecutive matches to capture the BC AA banner.
Day 1 victories over J.N. Burnett and Southridge set the stage for medal round wins versus Shawnigan Lake School and then Brentwood College School. After heavy afternoon rains required a move to an indoor facility at UBC, SMUS made light of the late-night start time to defeat its Island rivals and move on the the final versus top-seeded and defending champion Collingwood.
For the third year in a row, this was a thrilling contest, with multiple close and exciting matches. With the two teams tied at four, Karina Morales and Chrisabel Sum won a nail-biter to move SMUS ahead 5-4. Two chances remained for the Blue Jags to secure the sixth and clinching game. Down a game late in the deciding set, Turay Akdogan and Alex Ross recovered to draw level and force a tie-breaker. Under intense pressure, SMUS then racked up six straight points to lead 6-0, with Akdogan ending the heartbreak of both 2017 and 2018 with a decisive cross court winner. Congratulations to all of our tennis players on their full team effort to secure the provincial AA title!
Track and Field
Twenty-seven SMUS athletes competed in the Island meet at Centennial Stadium, with 12 qualifying for BCs by virtue of top-five finishes. In addition many others recorded personal best performances in their events.
In the end, the Girls team placed second and the Boys fourth, with the combined squad seventh out of the 36 schools recording points.
Kelowna-bound for provincials are Liam Erlic, Kyle Stenberg and Calum Webber-Smith, with all three closely bunched in the Junior Boys 300m hurdles race.
Also, Humraj Aujla and Therese Mortejo qualified for the High Jump, with Chika Duru doing the same in the Senior Girls Discus.
On the track, there were real fireworks, with David Wong-Harrison’s 54.81 time winning him a BC place in the 400m, while Tion McLeish claimed silver medals in both the Junior Boys’ 800m and 1500m. Joined by Erlic and Stenberg, the two then finished third in the 4 x 400m relay.
The Girls were also prominent, as Izzy Champion placed second in the Senior 800m and Cordel Tromp fourth in the 400m. These two then combined with Lauren Randall-Guy and Angelina Shandro for a silver medal 4 x 400m relay effort.
As expected, it was Shandro whose performance took pride of place. In being named Top Female Athlete at the tournament, the Grade 11 speedster won three individual gold medals, at 100m, 200m and 400m. Of particular note was her time of 55.69 in the 400. This broke a meet record that had stood for 31 years.