Six Smithers athletes travelled to the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec these past two weeks. Four returned with medals around their necks.
Morgan Marshall was part of the B.C. volleyball team that took home a silver medal, and Regan Yee, Lauren Stuart and Alex Schell all won bronze. Wrestler Jamie Tersago had some bad luck, but managed a fifth place finish in 53kg wrestling, and Laura Strauss placed fifth and 6th in the 100m and 200m dashes.
“The whole B.C. team did incredibly well,” coach Aleila Miller said. “It was a great opportunity for everyone to come together, from special athletes, to wheelchair events. Really, it was just a celebration of sports.”
Marshall’s B.C. volleyball team had been training hard with summer camps in Kelowna all summer and it showed. They won all five of their games in the round robin portion of the competition, advancing directly to the semifinals as a result. They beat Ontario in straight sets to set up a rematch with Alberta, whom they had already beaten in the tournament. But it wasn’t meant to be for Team B.C. The final was a tight, back and forth battle, that resulted in a five set win for Alberta.
“It was a little disappointing,” Marshall said. “We went in thinking we weren’t going to do very well, but obviously, once we got to the gold medal game, we wanted to win.”
Still, Marshall enjoyed the experience.
“It was so much fun, it was so cool to be a part of everything, from the opening ceremonies to the athletes’ village.”
Marshall is currently playing volleyball for Camosun College in Victoria, but she has bigger aspirations.
“It’s a dream of mine to play on the national team,” Marshall said. “I’m going to go back for one more year of school and then try to switch to a higher league.”
This was steeplechase star Regan Yee’s first Canada Summer Games and she was pleased with her third place result. From the outset, Yee was in tough against New Brunswick’s Genevieve Lalonde, who broke the Canadian record in the 2000-metre event. Yee got off to a slow start in the final, falling behind the leaders early, but she battled through it.
In the end, Yee came in 18 seconds behind her, but Lalonde was among the oldest athletes in the competition, four years Yee’s senior.
“I knew it was going to be a fast race,” Yee said. “But the winner broke the national record, so it was a bit faster than I expected.”
Yee will still be eligible for the next Canada Summer Games in 2017, and though it’s a ways off, she could go in as the favourite.
Up next for Yee is a trip to Colombia for the Pan Am Games, before heading to Trinity Western to begin her university career.
“I’m getting super excited [for the Pan Am Games], and I’m a little nervous too, since I’m not sure what to expect.”
In Colombia, she’ll be going up against some of the fastest runners in the Americas, many of them with years more experience.
“My goal is to make the podium, but we’ll see how it goes.”
On the wrestling mat, two Smithers athletes turned in strong performances, both individually and in the team competition.
Alex Schell was hoping to improve upon her recent bronze medal finish at wrestling nationals, earlier this year.
She went into the individual competition seeded second overall after winning most of her bouts in the team competition. But she ended up running into the same two wrestlers that gave her trouble at nationals.
In the semifinal she lost 3-1 to Saskatchewan’s Nicole Tryhorn and was relegated to the bronze medal match.
With a medal on the line, Schell dominated Alberta, winning three rounds in a row to take home the bronze, for her first Canada Summer Games medal.
“It was awesome,” Schell said. “I really wanted to beat the girl from Ontario, but I’m happy with getting a medal.”
She’ll return to high school this fall to gear up for a run at provincials in Prince George.
Rounding out the medalists, Lauren Stuart won bronze in the hammer throw, finishing behind Samme Groeneveld of Alberta and Sam Kennedy of B.C., with a 51.94 metre throw, five metres ahead of her fourth place competitor, but just half a metre shy of the silver.
She’s currently attending college at Northern Arizona University.
Wrestler Jamie Tersago had a tough draw in the 53kg weight class. She won her first bout over Quebec, before going up against a former national champion from PEI in her second match.
Both the second and third rounds were a clinch (0-0 draw), so her opponent had to choose the right coloured ball out of a bag, to gain an advantage. Tersago’s opponent chose her colour in both instances and won both rounds as a result. If that bad luck wasn’t enough, Tersago had suffered the same fate against another former national champion later on in the competition.
In the end, she finished fifth overall in the individual competition, in spite of the fact that she had beaten the fourth place wrestler, and she also helped Team BC to fourth place in the team competition.
“Overall, it was a really great experience,” Tersago said. “I had a lot of fun, it was so nice to meet other athletes from the other teams.”
Tersago will head back to school for her Grade 12 year in September, but she hopes bigger things are on the horizon.
“Provincials are in Prince George this year and it would be really nice to win them, hopefully people will be able to come out and watch.”
Finally, Laura Strauss made the finals of both the 100-metre and 200-metre dashes, finishing with a personal best time in the 200-metre, and a season best in the 100-metre. Her efforts were good enough for fifth and sixth place.
“She was really happy with her results,” coach Aleila Miller said. “Like always, she gave it everything she had, she ran with courage and heart. She’s an incredible athlete and an incredible person.”
Strauss is currently waiting to hear whether she will make the BC Special Olympics team which will compete at next year’s National Special Olympics games. If she makes it, she could find herself at the World Special Olympics in Los Angeles for 2015.