Term 3 Athletics

Though no one will ever know, what might conceivably have happened with SMUS Athletics had the spring sport seasons been completed?

Rowing

Certainly, SMUS Rowing looked poised to leave a real mark on both the provincial and national scenes. The season had actually started back in the fall, with multiple boats competing in the Crabfest, Head of the Hamster, Elk Lake and City regattas. In the latter competition, amid the usual mixture of sunshine, rain and strong winds, the girls performed particularly well, claiming three silver and two bronze medals. Liam Hodgins also laid down a marker by winning the Open Men’s 1X, pushed all the way by promising Grade 10 Markus Muller.

In the new year, land training and early water results on Elk Lake indicated that a good number of the 35 athletes were on track for a storybook season. Competitions at Maple Bay, Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake were to be the precursor to the 2020 nationals in St. Catharines, Ontario, with podium finishes and perhaps even national titles on the cards for several SMUS crews.

Certainly, Hodgins, as an identified national level athlete, was looking to complete an outstanding five-year SMUS rowing career by winning the U19 Men’s 1X. Along with Firinne Rolfe, based on winter testing results, both were on pace to compete for Canada at either the U19 FISA Junior World Championships in Slovenia or the U19 CanAmMex Regatta.

At St. Catharines, Rolfe, in various combinations with seniors Jaime Chow, Lisa du Plessis, Tessa Furey, Susan Gao, Linden Girardeaux, Kelly Jiang, Ellie LeBlanc, Kate O’Connor and Abby Samuels, would undoubtedly have featured prominently in the U19 Women’s 8+, the U19 Women’s Open 4+ and the U19 Women’s 63 kg 8+ and 4+. Moreover, the U17 Women’s 4+ were looking to improve one place on their 2019 national silver medal finish.

If the above races and results will only ever be a source of conjecture, what has occurred since March is ongoing virtual training, with 26 SMUS athletes competing against crews from all across Canada and the USA in the Brentwood College Virtual Race series. Through timed erg races and runs, a number of our crews made the podium in the virtual race series, including the U17 Women’s 4X, U19 Women’s 2X, U17 Mixed 2X and U19 Women’s 4X teams that all took home gold.

Soccer

On the Soccer front, the Senior Girls, scheduled to play in a strong Tier 1 City competition, split the two games they managed to play prior to lockdown. Claudia Murr shone in net, making several impressive saves to keep the Blue Jags in contention versus Stelly’s. Though eventually on the wrong end of a 2-0 score line, the team bounced back nicely days later to beat Mount Douglas by the same score. Claire Pontefract and Lauren Withers registered goals, with Anna Brinham, Marina Fabris, Julia McDermott, Paloma De Icaza and Jocelyn Zhao performing well in the backline.

Meanwhile, the Junior Girls, featuring a good number of the successful field hockey, volleyball and basketball players, moved smartly to 2-0 in league play following comfortable victories over Spectrum and Edward Milne. Sophie Olcen, Brianne McLeish and Talia Pike paced the attack in the two games, with Eva Cuddihy very steady in goal.

Both teams could have expected to reach their respective Island tournaments, while several junior “call-ups” would certainly have added to the senior depth at provincials.

Rugby

Rugby also looked poised to make some noise. A combination of a positive attitude, a lot of hard work, some size and more depth than in past years, suggested that both the Junior and Senior Boys could be successful.

In the one match played before Spring Break, the Junior Boys, led by flanker Philip Doerfler and flyhalf Ty Driscoll, produced a fine performance in overcoming Oak Bay 48-12.

The Senior Boys Rugby team, awaiting the return from injury of Canada U18 prop Joshua Mao, and in anticipation of a revamped provincial schedule which would have seen SMUS serious contenders at either the AAAA or AA BC tournament, only managed to fit in the annual Rees Boot Game versus the Oak Bay Barbarians. Yet, in what could have been a portent of things to come in April and May, the Blue Jags backed up a gritty defensive effort by notching five tries, three conversions and a penalty goal to win handsomely 34-0.

Luka Djurickovic and John Hernandez-Gillespie both registered a brace of tries, while Ben Shaw also crossed the whitewash. SMUS Male Athlete of the Year Will Kinahan added nine points with the boot.

The tackling of the entire team was of a consistently high standard, with forwards Clayton Burrage, Matt Klimchuk, Taiga Kitao and Duke Curran particularly prominent. Likewise, backs Max Nishima, Matthew Le Roux and Jack Batoni were rock solid.

Not to be outdone, the Girls made it a clean sweep over Oak Bay, retaining the Robinson Cup in the process. In perfect conditions for sevens at UVic’s Centennial Stadium, SMUS exploded for five unanswered tries and a 29-0 half time lead. Canadian U18 international Chloé Hill-Huse was in excellent form, while a mountain of possession and slick passing produced tries for Dasha Tosova (2), Kenzi Farish (2) and Ava O’Connor.

While Oak Bay stabilized to a degree after the break to tally three times, the result was never in doubt as Hill-Huse, Fernando Osio and Marbella Rodriguez-Ramirez added scores in the 48-15 final.

With plenty of speed and experience, the Blue Jags would have been dangerous on the provincial sevens circuit. What would have been equally exciting was seeing how the squad might have coped with a foray into the 15-a-side game.

Golf

The Golf team also had the look of provincial contender about it. Island champions and BC AA silver medalists in 2019, SMUS looked forward to the usual array of build-up events, with the Delta and Victoria Police tournaments on the docket, in addition to the ISA and Lower Island finals. Returnees Owen Delichte, Jay Park and Sonja Tang would have formed a very dependable nucleus, with the team already comfortable playing at Parksville’s Pheasant Glen Golf Course, the site of the 2020 Islands, but looking forward to challenging the tough Hazelmere Golf Course at BCs.

In addition, Daniel Bennett, having reached the Senior School, would have provided a formidable anchor to the squad. An outstanding age grade player, the Grade 9 featured prominently in last summer’s provincial Bantam, Juvenile and Junior events, as well as representing BC in the prestigious Eddie Hogan Cup.

Tennis

The 2020 Tennis squad, after a detailed and demanding winter training phase, was looking to follow up on the successes of a year ago. Back then, SMUS won not only the City and Island titles, but also, thanks to a combination of depth, skill and resilience, its first ever provincial banner.

Certainly, there was justified cause for optimism. Newcomers Lemiel Hoy, Jakob Mayer, Felina Yang and Nicole Meyers all showed flashes of excellent form in practice games. This quartet would have mixed nicely with the many talented returnees, including Alex Ross, Keigo Imamura, Ben Fyfe, Paige Rothwell, Kristina Matthews and Devon Mills.

Again, local league matches and the always competitive ISA circuit would have been excellent preparation for the business end of the season. SMUS’s top-end talent and considerable depth seemed primed for success.

Track and Field

In Track and Field, the Senior Girls would have been strong favourites to win gold at the BCs. Most of the key performers, who had come agonizingly close to winning provincials a year ago, returned to the squad. Angelina Shandro was on pace to win her fourth consecutive 400m race and would have anchored a very fast 4 x 400m relay team. She very likely would have also likely medaled in the 100m and 200m races.

Other standouts could have been Kenzi Farish in the long and triple jumps, with Izzy Champion and Lauren Randall-Guy very competitive in the middle distance events. Elle Nelson, in the 1500m and 3000m races, could also have contributed key points.

In addition, Grade 9s Brianne McLeish and Sophie Olcen would have provided crucial depth in the sprints and jumps.

On the boys side, Kyle Stenberg and Liam Erlic looked set for strong seasons in the 400m hurdles, with David Wong-Harrison showing promise in the 400m and high jump. Grade 10 phenom Tion McLeish would no doubt have continued his running excellence at the Junior level, and comfortably moved up a division to run effectively as part of a fast 4 x 400m relay. Finally, Flavius Meinecke and Nicholas Herrmann would have been very competitive in the 1500m and 3000m races.

Badminton

Badminton training began in late January, with multiple returnees looking to retain the Island title won in 2019 and then improve on an 8th place finish at BCs. Co-captains Jessie Cheng and Jeffery Zheng provided strong leadership, and, in conjunction with Jenny She, Skyler Ji, Mido Luo, Andre Wen, Jerry Liu and Samson Yan, made a very positive impact during practices. New additions to the squad included Carmen Law, Ken Yang, Simon Kendall and Riley Torstensen. It would have been very interesting to see how the various singles and doubles combinations may have played out, as SMUS aimed for peak performance in late May at the provincials in Richmond.

Sailing

The Sailing team was also in the final stages of selection as school shut down in mid- March. A good number of new students, several with a lot of experience, looked set to make the final 24. All would have looked forward to practice sessions at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, as well as the annual Discovery Cup and City championship regatta.

Vivat!

Read the recaps of Term 1 and Term 2 Athletics: