LAC LA BICHE - Junior District badminton champions from across the Lakeland were crowned on Saturday afternoon in Lac La Biche. Grade 5-9 athletes from schools across northeastern Alberta competed in 540 badminton games on the Bold Center courts through the day.
Student-athletes competed in singles, doubles and mixed doubles competitions in several age levels of the Lakeland Schools Athletics Association event.
With 18 games taking place at one time in the two field houses, the event took about six hours to compete, and drew hundreds of people to the Bold Center for a busy day of activity.
The Districts championships were the last event of the junior-level badminton season.
Results of the Districts were not yet available by the first editorial deadline for this article. Results are expected to be posted to the Lakeland Schools Athletic Association website soon, and will be linked to this story in an online update at www.lakelandtoday.ca
Seniors look to Provincials
The Districts followed the senior badminton Zones that were played out at the Bold Center last Wednesday. The senior level is for players in Grades 10-12, with winners heading to Alberta Schools' Athletic Association provincials in Lloydminster next weekend.
There are 52 entries from northeastern Alberta high schools going to the ASAA Provincials, including players from Lloydminster, Fort McMurray, Dewberry, Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, Bonnyville, St. Paul, Two Hills, Vermilion and Lamont.
Lakeland athletes to Badminton Provincials
NDHS Halle Blocha — Intermediate Girls Singles
NDHS Emma Jonker & Angelyn Stanley — Sr. Girls Doubles
NDHS Xavier Sylvestre & Ethan Amyotte — Intermediate Boys Doubles
CLHS Hayden Midford — Junior Girls Singles
CLHS Ava Pinch & Izzy Hamel — Intermediate Girls Doubles
SPRHS Sydney Fedoruk & Kayla Mangatal — Senior Girls Doubles
SPRHS Grace Burton & Brennan Riopel — Intermediate Mixed Doubles
Beaux-Lacs Brielle Bernier & Danielle Antoniuk — Junior Girls Doubles
Two Hills Paul Saskiw & Aubrey Sorochan — Junior Mixed Doubles
Two Hills Miranda Madryk & Raenna Krahn — Junior Girls Doubles
Two Hills – Kaleb Boettcher – Senior Boys Singles
JAWS athletes to Badminton Provincials
Ben Hortaleza & Aloe Manalese — Sr Mixed Doubles
Faith Dizon & Avery Hayward — Intermediate Mixed Doubles
Stephen Blanchard & Jimmy Grimes — Sr. Boys Doubles
Tanner Davidson & Josh Aquino — Sr. Boys Doubles
Avery Kuraitis — Sr. Girls Singles
Zackary Przybylski — Jr. Boys Singles
J.A. Williams High School Athletics Director Andrew Przybylski said the Sharks crew did pretty well at Zones, advancing 10 players to the ASAA provincial championships on May 6.
"We have 10 athletes going, which is the most of schools in our zone," said Przybylski, following last Wednesday's senior badminton event that drew more than 120 players from across the zone.
The school's badminton program, and the continuing success of the feeder program from the local junior high schools has improved the quality and awareness of the sport locally, says Przybylski, who is also one of the high school team's coaches.
"When we go, we do quite well. In the last couple of years, our badminton program has really taken a turn in the last couple years," he said.
Last year, the school produced three provincial winners and an overall provincial silver team award.
Przybylski says a lot of the success is attributed to the core of coaches who help with the program, and expand on the energy of the young players. He said the recent success of the JAWS badminton program also draws more interest to the sport.
"It goes back to the old saying that success breeds success. All it takes sometimes is one good year and other people see it, and they want to play badminton, and it snowballs," he said explaining the current crop of seniors and junior players have real potential. "If they stick with it — and listen to their coaches and take the feedback they're given, we'll have more good years to come."