From softball tournaments to cycling triumphs to heavily-bearded rugby players, there was no shortage of news on the Semiahmoo Peninsula this year. Here are some of the highlights from 2011:
• At the Resolution Run – the Peninsula’s annual New Year’s Day eight-km race – South Surrey’s Jordan Mara finishes first, and nearly sets a new race record in the process. His time of 26 minutes, 15 seconds is just eight seconds off the record pace of Ryan Hayden, who set the mark in 2008.
• Semiahmoo Hockey Association makes a call for new volunteers to help run the hockey organization. Citing “volunteer fatigue” league president Ian Maguire, tells Peace Arch News that SMHA is without an ice-time allocator – one of the most important roles within the organization.
• Surrey Eagles forward, and Semi Hockey alum, Michael Stenerson inks a scholarship offer to the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
• The Elgin Park Orcas’ bid for a sixth straight Surrey Firefighters Classic basketball title is halted in the second round of preliminary play, when the senior girls hoops squad is upset 56-49 by the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers. In the lower-tier Ladder Division, the Earl Marriott Mariners topple Tamanawis to take the title.
• In the Surrey RCMP Basketball Classic, the White Rock Christian Warriors were on the outside looking in for the first time since 2007 after an early-round loss to Fleetwood Park. It was just the third time in 13 years that WRCA had not won the tournament. The Peninsula’s other senior boys teams, Earl Marriott, Elgin Park, Southridge and Semiahmoo, all lost in preliminary rounds.
• Figure skater Melissa Kustra and partner Paul Schatz represent B.C. at BMO Skate Canada Junior National Championships, Jan. 17-18 in Victoria.
• Earl Marriott Secondary runner Katie Reid signs a scholarship deal to run at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).
• Richard Zokol, a South Surrey resident, is named as one of two new inductees into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. “It’s all still a little overwhelming, and hasn’t sunk in yet. You don’t really plan for these things, they just kind of happen,” Zokol said.
• A school-best five wrestlers represent Earl Marriott Secondary at provincials – Logan Smith, Mason Pomeroy, Kaige Thompson, Brian Houghton and Corey Coon. “As their coach, I’m pretty impressed,” said coach Tom Willman. “These young men have had a very good season, and making provincials is well-deserved.”
• B.C. Soccer announced the creation of a new premier youth league, and the Semiahmoo Peninsula is awarded one of eight expansion organizations.
• After a lengthy, years-long absence, the Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys basketball team returns to the Fraser Valley Championships, but draws a tough opponent – second-seeded Pitt Meadows, who defeat the Mariners 75-42.
• Despite winning their first two games at Fraser Valley Basketball Championships, the White Rock Christian Academy Warriors senior boys are bounced after a loss to lower-seeded Fleetwood Park. The loss meant WRCA would not qualify for provincials for the first time in more than a decade. Meanwhile, the Elgin Park Orcas senior girls punch their ticket to provincials after winning a Fraser Valley wildcard game over Oak Bay. The Orcas end up ninth at B.C. championships.
• Para-nordic skier Mary Benson wins a silver medal at the Canada Games, coming second in the five-km classic mass start. She was also fifth in the 2.5-km women’s interval race.
• The Surrey Eagles sweep the Coquitlam Express in the first round of B.C. Hockey League playoffs, capping the series with a 3-1 win at the Coquitlam Sports Complex. They advanced to the third round after knocking out the Langley Chiefs in six games, but were bounced from playoffs by Powell River.
• The WRCA Warriors win a B.C. junior boys basketball title, defeating Victoria’s St. Michael’s University School 55-51 in the finals. Peter Spangehl is named to the first-team all-star squad.
• White Rock Christian Academy runner Sean Keane – one of the province’s top high school middle-distance runners – signs a scholarship to run at the University of Kentucky.
• The Trinity Western University Spartans, led by South Surrey coach Scott Allen, finish second in Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball nationals, losing 82-59 to Carleton.
• It’s a good month for Peace Arch United’s premier men’s soccer team. First, the club captured a Fraser Valley Soccer League regular-season title, and followed up with a Pakenham Cup title after a 4-1 win over North Delta SC. The Pakenham championship was PAU’s fifth since 2005.
• B.C. Hockey League players Mitch Jones, a Surrey Eagles’ defenceman, and Troy Paterson, a South Surrey native who plays for Cowichan, are part of a Canadian squad heading to Russia to take part in the 2011 Russian Invitational Tournament. Ronnie Paterson, father of Troy and former Eagles’ owner, also makes the trip as the general manager.
• The Peace Arch Rangers capture a U13 Boys Coastal Cup championship after a 2-1 victory – decided on penalty kicks – over the Comox Valley Red Strike in Richmond.
• Southridge School teacher and senior girls basketball coach Paul Chiarenza is honoured with a Basketball BC Coaching Award of Excellence for his work as head coach of the Capilano University Blues women’s team, which he’s coached for more than a decade.
• Peninsula athletes take centre stage as the high school track and field season winds down. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Surrey city championships, where South Surrey runners dominate the senior boys 1,500-m race; Semiahmoo’s Jack Williams finishes first, Earl Marriott’s Deon Clifford is third, Elgin Park’s Jake Bruchet places fourth and WRCA’s Sean Keane is sixth.
• A pair of White Rock Renegade alums are named to the 2011 NAIA Association of Independent Institutions softball all-conference teams as members of the UBC Thunderbirds – senior catcher Tanya McLean and second baseman Courtney O’Connor.
• A pair of White Rock Masters Club swimmers, Aart Looye and Kathy Graham, scoop medals at Masters National Swim Championships in Montreal.
• At B.C. High School Track and Field Championships, Semi’s Jack Williams medals twice – in the senior boys 1,500- and 3,000-m – as does Marriott’s Katie Reid, in the 200- and 400-m, to lead all South Surrey athletes. Elgin Park’s Ryan Sommer and Christina Juert also pick up two medals apiece in the throwing pit.
• After calling his side one that “people need to be afraid of,” Earl Marriott coach Adam Roberts’ senior boys rugby squad places fourth at B.C. triple-A championships, losing to Carson Graham 22-19 in the bronze-medal match.
• South Surrey swimmer Richard Weinberger earns a berth at FINA World Swim Championships in China after a two-medal performance at the 10th Annual Open Water Festival in Fort Myers, Fla. Weinberger wins gold in both the 10-km and one-mile races.
• A pair of former Cloverdale Minor Hockey teammates, goaltender Laurent Brossoit and defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon, are selected by the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft.Wotherspoon, who plays for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, is selected in the second round, while Brossoit, an Edmonton Oil King, goes in the sixth.
• With B.C. Premier Baseball League playoffs looming, the White Rock Tritons get one of the best pitching performances of the season from Josh Larsen, who pitches a one-hitter against Victoria Mariners, striking out 10.
• The Canadian Open International Fastpitch Championships hits the field at Softball City, featuring some of the world’s top women’s softball players. In the women’s division, Japan whipped the U.S. 7-0 in the championship game, while the Futures (U19) tournament was won by the California Worth Firecrackers. In the Showcase (U16) division, Hawaii Lokahi beat Abbotsford 10-1.
• In the Tour de White Rock, amateur rider Tim Abercrombie, 32, wins the 134-km road race, beating a slew of pro competitors in the bargain, while the women’s 80-km race was won by Jasmin Glaesser.
• Four White Rock Renegades teams punch their ticket to national fastpitch championships, including the Senior ‘A’ Renegades, who capture their fourth straight provincial banner.
• South Surrey’s Nick Rutckyj wins the B.C. Premier Junior Premier Baseball League’s triple crown, leading the league in batting average, home runs, and runs-batted in.
• The White Rock Renegades’ Senior ‘A’ team wins its second consecutive national title.The same month, the Renegades ‘95 win a national bantam title in Winnipeg.
• The White Rock Selects, a team of 12-year-old baseball players, win a best-of-three series against the Calgary Coyotes, which gives them a berth in the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Maryland later in the month.
• After two years of renovations and delays, Earl Marriott Secondary’s sports field finally re-opens. The field – which was renovated to make it regulation size for football, while adding bleachers and a scoreboard – was delayed due to problems with the grass.
• Weightlifter Christine Girard secures a spot on Canada’s team for the Pan-Am Games, after winning gold at a meet in Kelowna.
• Adam Kleeberger suits up for Canada at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. He is named man-of-the-match in Canada’s tournament-opening win over Tonga, and also garners attention because of his large beard.
• The Semiahmoo Supra finish in second place at the Women’s Western Classic Finals. The over-35 women’s soccer team came up one goal short in the aggregate goals tournament.
• South Surrey pitcher Leon Boyd, 28, wins a world championship playing for the Netherlands, as the Dutch national team upsets Cuba 2-1 in the finals of the Baseball World Cup.
• Adam Kleeberger shaves off his beard for charity. The shearing of the beard is done by comedian Rick Mercer for a segment on Mercer’s CBC television show.
• Citing injuries and dwindling numbers, Earl Marriott Secondary announces its senior team will not finish the rest of the high school football season.
• The Seaquam Seahawks defeat Surrey Christian to win the Peace Arch News Classic senior girls volleyball tournament, which is held over three days at Semiahmoo, Earl Marriott and Elgin Park secondaries.
• Former White Rock-South Surrey Titan kicker Sean Whyte, who now plays for the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, is one of two nominees for the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian Award, along with Edmonton Eskimos’ Jerome Messam, who goes on to win.
• The Bayside Sharks’ top mens’ rugby team loses to Burnaby Lake in the final game of the BC Rugby Union’s fall season, and is relegated to Div. 1 for the spring schedule.
• Despite a scorekeeping gaffe that very nearly kept them out of the tourament’s ‘A’ bracket, the Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys soccer team recovers to finish third at AAA soccer provincials.
• The White Rock-South Surrey Titans’ midget team wins its first-ever provincial football title, capping an undefeated season with a 36-13 victory over the Coquitlam Falcons in the championship game.
• Both Bayside Sharks’ U15 and U16 boys rugby sides win provincial titles one week apart. For the U16 team, it’s a second B.C. title in as many years.
• Liam Murphy-Burke is named to Canada’s U19 men’s rugby team, which will travel to England in February 2012 for a training camp and exhibition games.