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2015: Sports In Review

Local athletes have been as busy as ever over the past 12 months, achieving all manner of victories throughout our cities and beyond.

When you work at the same place as long as I’ve worked at the Peace Arch News – 12 years next March, for those keeping score – you eventually figure out the ebbs and flows of the job.

I can usually predict, with some degree of accuracy, what the ‘big’ stories are going to be, and when they’re going to happen – though there are always a few surprises.

But I know, for example, that I can’t take many vacation days in July because of the Tour de White Rock and the Canadian Open fastpitch tournament. August used to be a slower month, sports-wise, until the White Rock Renegades and White Rock-South Surrey Little Leaguers started winning every ball game in sight, en route to national championships and Little League World Series appearances.

This year, of course, there was no ‘slow’ season – no chance for your poor, hard-working local sports reporter to catch his breath.

Take December, for example – sometimes a quieter month, as holidays loom.

In the span of just a few weeks, the following happened: Earl Marriott Secondary’s football team won their second straight B.C. title; Sean Whyte won a Grey Cup title with the Edmonton Eskimos; Willie Watson led the UBC Thunderbirds to a Vanier Cup win; the senior girls volleyball team at EMS won a silver medal at provincials; and local golfer Adam Svensson earned his Web.com Tour card after a dominant performance at qualifying school.

It’s enough to make your head spin, trying to keep up with it all.

And really, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised – rare is the year that South Surrey, Cloverdale and White Rock athletes don’t have success in all manner of sports, no matter the season.

Like I said, I’ve been here awhile. I should know that by now.

January

• Nic Petan helps lead Team Canada to a gold medal at IIHF U20 World Junior Hockey Hockey Championships in Toronto. Canada defeated Russia in the gold-medal contest.

• The Elgin Park Orcas are the top South Surrey team at the annual Surrey Fire Fighters Goodwill Classic, finishing fourth at the city-wide senior girls basketball tournament. The tournament is won by the Fleetwood Park Dragons, who defeated Holy Cross.

• The Tamanawis Wildcats repeat as champions of the Surrey RCMP Classic, defeating the Southridge Storm 73-65 in the final of the annual senior boys hoops tournament. While the Wildcats celebrated their second title in a row, the second-place showing for Southridge was the school’s best ever at the Surrey-wide tournament. Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers place third.

• A Royal City Curling Club rink skipped by Isobel Gardner wins the Bye the Sea senior women’s bonspiel, which is hosted by the Peace Arch Curling Club. A Cloverdale team led by Diane Jarvos finishes second.

• The Surrey Eagles snap a nine-game losing streak and get their first win of the calendar year, defeating the West Kelowna Warriors 5-4.

February

• Six members of the Semiahmoo Rock midget lacrosse team are selected in the B.C. Junior ‘A’ Lacrosse League’s annual draft. Tre Leclaire is chosen first overall by the Delta Islanders, while three players, Patrick Shoemay (third overall), Sean Dyck (27th) and Reece Tomkow (29th) are picked by the Burnaby Lakers. Rounding out the draft picks are Hudson Sergeant, who goes to the Langley Thunder with the 26th pick, and Jordan Dunbar, selected 48th overall by the Port Coquitlam Saints.

• Four Peninsula bantam hockey players – all members of the Delta Wild prep hockey squad – has a big win on the ice in Alberta. Forwards Mackenzie Merriman, Matthew Moser, Ethan Scardina and defenceman Jack Judson was all members of the squad that wins the John Reid Memorial Tournament in St. Albert, Alta.

• The Semiahmoo Totems senior boys basketball team edge the Tamanawis Wildcats for the Fraser Valley South division title after a 97-62 win. The victory sends the Totems into Fraser Valley championships, where they do well enough secure a spot at provincials for the first time in 38 years. Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary’s senior boys team also qualifies for provincials for the first time since 1953.

• At the AA level, Southridge Storm’s senior girls basketball team wins three consecutive Fraser Valley games – rebounding from an opening-game loss – to snag a berth at provincial championships.

• A number of South Surrey and Cloverdale rugby players finish on the podium at the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens tournament, as members of a B.C. provincial squads. Team BC’s under-18 boys team captures first place in the U19 division, while the U16 boys also places first in their tournament. The provincial U17 boys team places second, and the U18 and U23 girls team ends up second and third place, respectively.

March

• Southridge Storm’s senior boys basketball team captures its second straight Fraser Valley AA banner with a 92-88 win over Victoria’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies in the title game. Storm’s Hunter Hughes is named tournament MVP. With the win, Southridge advances to the provincials.

• A tough BC Hockey League season comes to an end for the Surrey Eagles, who lose both games on their final weekend, and finish the season with just nine wins in 58 games. Earlier in the year, the team went more than a month between victories, and finished the year with the second-worst offensive output in BCHL history, scoring at a clip of just 2.33 goals-per-game.

• The Valley West Hawks’ hockey season ends after the team is ousted from the first round of the BC Major Midget League playoffs. The Hawks lost a best-of-three series to the Vancouver Chiefs.

• Semiahmoo Peninsula goaltender – and former Surrey Eagle – Andrew Hammond garners national attention after he is called up to the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Filling in as the team’s starting netminder due to injuries, Hammond wins seven of his first eight games, and helps the Sens clinch a playoff spot.

• The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and the Semiahmoo Totems senior boys hoops teams each finish in the top eight at BC Boys Senior 4A Basketball Championships at the Langley Events Centre. The Southridge Storm placed third at the AA tournament.

• South Surrey golfer Adam Svensson turns pro, leaving the NCAA ranks – he had been attending Florida’s Barry University – after multiple victories and school records. Svensson, an Earl Marriott Secondary graduate, won nine college tournaments before turning pro.

April

• The Bayside Sharks reclaim the Onion Cup, after its top men’s rugby squad defeats the crosstown rival Surrey Beavers 38-26 for the title. The Beavers had won the grudge match in 2014.

• A curling team skipped by Karen Lepine – and also included third Susan Beuk, second Agnes Sigurdson and lead Donna Christian – are crowned national championships after winning the 2015 Canadian Women’s Masters Curling Championships in Whitehorse.

• One year after losing the Sandcastle Cup in overtime, the Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys rugby team reclaimed the trophy from the rival Semiahmoo Totems with a 30-0 shutout victory.

• Golfer Adam Svensson gets his first win as a professional, taking top spot at the Lake Country Classic, an event on the southern U.S.-based Swingthought.com Tour. The win earned the 21-year-old a $20,000 payday.

• White Rock swimmer Hilary Caldwell qualifies for the Pan-Am Games after a second-place finish in the 100-m and 200-m backstroke events at Canadian swim trials in Toronto.

• More than a dozen runners from Surrey and White Rock take part in the prestigious Boston Marathon. Drew Nicholson, 30, is the fastest of the bunch, crossing the finish line in two hours, 40 minutes and 18 seconds – good for 281st overall out of more than 27,000 runners.

May

• The White Rock Tritons open the BC Premier Baseball League season slowly, going 1-8 in the first nine games of the season.

• Newton football player Christian Covington is selected by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the National Football League draft. The former Vancouver College high-schooler – who played at Houston’s Rice University – calls his selection “a dream come true for me.”

• The Semiahmoo Totems and Earl Marriott Mariners finish second and third, respectively, at Fraser Valley senior girls rugby championships. The Totems lose the title game 26-7 to Abbotsford’s Yale Lions, while the Mariners won the bronze-medal game by the narrowest of margins, 21-20 over the Elgin Park Orcas.

• The Southridge Storm win their first-ever Fraser Valley senior boys rugby banner, after the AA team defeats D.W. Poppy Secondary 13-10 in the final game. At the AAA level, Earl Marriott settles for second place after losing to Yale.

• The Elgin Park Orcas senior girls soccer team scores a big win at Fraser Valleys, capturing the regional title after a 3-1 win over the Panorama Ridge Thunder. The Thunder had not lost a game in two years prior to losing to the Orcas.

June

• Southridge School’s senior girls soccer team places second at single-A provincials after being edged 2-1 in extra time by Vernon’s Immaculata Spartans.

• The Earl Marriott Mariners place fourth at senior boys AAA rugby provincials – losing a spot on the podium by virtue of a tie-breaker after a 22-22 tie against their arch-rival Yale Lions. The Mariners’ pre-tournament goal of a podium spot was dashed because Yale had more converted tries than the South Surrey side.

• Junior-aged athletes steal the show at BC High School Track and Field Championships, led by the Semiahmoo Totems, which finishes third overall in combined junior standings. The Totems are led by the relay team of Alexa Porpaczy, Haley Ribeiro, Gabrielle Hack and Jessica Williams, who combine for two relay gold medals. Other medal winners include Earl Marriott’s Georgia Ginther (gold, steeplechase), Elgin Park’s Danielle Steer (bronze, 800-m) and Lord Tweedsmuir’s Ben Ingvaldson (gold in shotput, silver in hammer throw).

• A pair of former White Rock Tritons pitchers are selected in the Major League Baseball draft as Jeff Degano (Indiana State University) is picked in the second round by the New York Yankees and Alex Webb (UBC) goes off the board in the 36th round to San Diego.

• Elgin Park Secondary’s golf team finishes second at B.C. AAA Golf Championships – the school’s first podium finish in the sport in 15 years. Elgin finished behind only Coquitlam’s Gleneagle Secondary at the even, which was held in Port Alberni.

• White Rock’s Kelly Olahan is inducted, alongside her old teammates from Mountain FC, into the Coquitlam Sports Hall of Fame, and honoured as pioneers for girls soccer in the province.

July

• Longtime diving coach and international judge Bev Boys is named to the Order of Canada. The White Rock Divers founder is honoured for “her contributions to the sport of diving as an athlete, coach, official and judge.”

• For the fifth year in a row, Japan takes top spot at the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championships, winning the women’s division with a 10-0 defeat of Cuba in the final contest. Canada finishes third, losing games to both of the finalists on the tournament’s final weekend. In the Futures (U19) division, Canada’s development squad rolls to victory, while the White Rock Renegades captured the title in the Showcase (U16) division.

• In a surprise move, Kwantlen Polytechnic University announces – just eight weeks before the PACWEST season is set to begin – that the coming athletic season will be the school’s last. The decision blindsides many of the school’s athletes and coaches alike.

• Despite racing without a team alongside her, solo cyclist Shelley Olds runs away with the women’s race at the Tour de White Rock road race, outsprinting Sara Bergen to the finish line. The win caps an impressive week for Olds, who finishes BC Superweek with eight podium finishes and three victories. The mens’ Tour de White Rock road race is won by Nova Scotia’s Garret McLeod.

• The White Rock Tritons’ narrowly miss qualifying for the BC Premier Baseball League playoffs after losses in the final two games of the regular season knock them from contention.

August

• The White Rock All-Stars – a team of 12-year-old ball players – have a summer to remember after winning district, provincial and then national championships to qualify for the prestigious Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Though the squad loses its first two games, it nearly pulled off an upset in Game 1, a 1-0 loss to Mexico that saw White Rock pitcher Matthew Wilkinson strikeout 16 batters.

• Local teams sweep the podium at U18 Women’s Canadian Fastpitch Championships in Montreal, as the Delta Heat ’97, White Rock Renegades ’97 and Surrey Storm finished first, second and third, respectively.

• In Calgary, the White Rock Renegades ’99 win a national bantam crown, winning the championship game in extra innings, while the Surrey Storm 2001-A team also captured a Canadian title, winning U14 nationals in Victoria.

• Surrey golfer Michelle Kim finishes first at Canadian Junior Girls Golf Championships in Saskatchewan, while fellow Surrey resident Hannah Lee places second.

• Earl Marriott Secondary’s varsity football team joins forces with counterparts from Hugh Boyd Secondary and heads to Alaska for a series of exhibition contests.

• Former Surrey Eagles forward Brad McGowan signs his first professional contract, with the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. McGowan, a Langley native who played four seasons with the Rochester Institute of Technology after his junior-hockey career, played for the Eagles from 2009-11.

September

• Athletes from across Surrey, White Rock and Cloverdale excel at the Western Canada Summer Games in Wood Buffalo, Alta., combining to win 43 medals at the event. As a whole, Team BC tops the medal count with 280.

• Longtime Surrey United coach, manager and executive member Martin Foden, 66, dies suddenly while on vacation in Palm Springs. Foden is remembered as “a tireless worker” and advocate for amateur soccer, and the Surrey United organization.

• Young Peninsula baseball players are paid a visit by a trio of former Major League Baseball players, as former Toronto Blue Jays Roberto Alomar, Duane Ward and Jesse Barfield come to town to host a young clinic as part of White Rock Baseball Day.

• After excelling on the field throughout training camp and the preseason, Christian Covington makes the 53-man roster of the Houston Texans, and suits up for the team’s first game. Covington was a sixth-round selection in the previous spring’s NFL draft.

• Hoping to put last year’s tough season behind them, the Surrey Eagles open the 2015/16 BCHL schedule with a pair of losses, to the Langley Rivermen and Coquitlam Express, respectively. The team gets into the win column in its fifth game of the year, a 4-1 win over Prince George Spruce Kings.

• A campaign to re-start a juvenile program at Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association is a success, when it’s announced that enough players have registered for the coming season.

October

• Longtime White Rock Gymnastics coach Geri Henry is named recreational coach of the year by Gymnastics BC.

• The Canadian Junior Hockey League announces that the Surrey Eagles will host the 2016 CJHL Prospects Game, which is set for Jan. 26 at South Surrey Arena. The game will feature the top prospects from junior ‘A’ leagues across Canada.

• Surrey United’s U16 boys team captures a national soccer championship at South Surrey Athletic Park, defeating Ontario’s Woodbridge strikers 3-0 in the final game. United’s Noah DaSilva leads the tournament in scoring and is named MVP. In the U16 girls side of the national tourney, Coastal FC finishes fourth.

• Four weeks into the BC Major Midget League hockey season, the Valley West Hawks are the lone undefeated team, with a 5-0-1 record (win-loss-tie) after a weekend sweep of the Vancouver Canadians.

• In an all-Surrey final, Holy Cross Crusaders defeat the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers to claim top spot at the Peace Arch News Classic, the annual senior girls volleyball tournament.

November

• Semiahmoo and Earl Marriott teams finish on the podium at a rain-soaked Fraser Valley Cross-Country Championships at Crescent Park. Semi is led by its gold-medal winning senior girls contingent, while EMS finishes second. In the senior boys division, Semi places third as a team, while Marriott’s Jaxon Mackie wins the 4.6-km junior boys race.

• Junior hockey player Trevor Cox – a Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum – is dealt to from the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers to his hometown Vancouver Giants. The 20-year-old Cox is among the WHL’s top snipers, and expected to help boost the Giants offensive attack.

• Southridge Storm’s senior boys soccer team rolls to a Fraser Valley ‘A’ championship with a 3-1 win over Langley’s Credo Christian Kodiaks. A week later, the Storm finish second at provincials in Kamloops, losing the title game to Victoria’s Glenlyon-Norfolk Gryphons.

• Earl Marriott’s Jaxon Mackie wins a provincial junior boys cross-country title at Jericho Park in Vancouver, completing the 5.3-km course in 17 minutes and 41 seconds.

• South Surrey and Cloverdale teams punch their tickets to provincial volleyball championships, after strong showings at Fraser Valleys. Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and Clayton Heights Night Riders win the senior girls quad-A and AAA crowns, respectively, while both the senior boys and girls from Earl Marriott each place third.

• White Rock boxer Darcy Hinds wins the middleweight crown at Western Canadian Boxing Championships in North Vancouver, winning three fights in three days. The 38-year-old then sets his sights on Olympic boxing trials, set for December in Montreal.

• Kicker Sean Whyte wins a Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos after his team edges the Ottawa Redblacks 26-20 in Winnipeg. The 30-year-old White Rock native – who was close to retiring from football midway through the season before joining the Eskimos – kicks one field goal in the win.

• The Earl Marriott Mariners senior football team captures its second consecutive AA Tier 2 provincial championship with a 40-14 win over the Howe Sound Tigers. EMS went undefeated in league play en route to the title game, which was played at BC Place.

December

• The Surrey Eagles end a month-long, 12-game losing streak with an 11-8 victory over the Merritt Centennials. Jeffrey Stewart has six points – three goals, three assists – in the win.

• White Rock football player Willie Watson is a key contributor to the UBC Thunderbirds’ Vanier Cup victory, 26-23 over the Montreal Carabins. Watson, a receiver, tied a Vanier Cup record for most receptions in a game, with 12, and finished with 171 receiving yards.

• Earl Marriott Secondary’s senior girls volleyball team places second at BC High School quad-A volleyball championships in Nanaimo, losing in the finals to the Handsworth Royals.

• South Surrey golfer Adam Svensson earns his Web.com Tour card for 2016 after breezing through the tour’s qualifying school in Florida. Svensson, 21, finishes the four-round event at 20-under-par.

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