We’re all over the map today, while wondering if the Brandon Wheat Kings have started the long slide into lottery pick contention. But more on that later.
First, we take a look at a little high school history that was made on the volleyball court.
Coach Kevin Neufeld’s Neelin Spartans received most of the headlines and highlights for their remarkable run to the provincial AAAA varsity girls’ high school title on Monday in Winnipeg, led by tournament MVP Amy Gordon, all-star middle Alison Quiring, all-star left side Kristine Ward and player of the match Paige Thomson. While it was an impressive accomplishment for a AAA-sized school to make the jump to the AAAA ranks and win it all, the most amazing part of the story is they did it without a single Grade 12 player on the roster.
While the Spartans basked in the spotlight, there was another interesting story on the weekend as the Hamiota Huskies made a little history of their own when they placed three sisters on the six-player all-star team at the provincial A girls’ championship. Morris Glimcher of the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association believes it’s the first time that has happened in this province. Grade 12 twins Kailan and Keegan Robinson and Grade 9 setter Kenzie Robinson helped lead the Huskies to a silver medal on Saturday in St. Jean.
“I’ve coached for quite a few years and I don’t think there’s ever been … three sisters who have been all-stars (at the same provincial championship),” said Huskies coach Glennis Hodgson, who has coached on and off for 25 years in Hamiota.
“They are the leaders of the team. They certainly are very positive influences on the team and it’s kind of neat to see three sisters who get along so well. They encourage each other and there is no negativity between them, which sometimes you can get between a Grade 12 and a Grade 9, but no, they are very, very positive and they help each other out a lot. And it certainly makes the team much stronger for sure.”
The Robinson twins have been selected to play in the provincial graduating all-star volleyball matches Saturday in Winnipeg and are starting to attract attention from recruiters like Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball coach Lee Carter, who would love to see them continue to develop their game at the college level and then make the jump to the university ranks with BU one day.
“They are both very good, athletic people and they’ve got a ton of upside, so we’re trying to help them go to Alberta colleges or somewhere like that for a couple of years and then see how they develop and then come back here (to BU),” Carter said. “I really like the way they play and I like their energy, but they need to go somewhere and play (to develop).”
ODDS AND ENDS:
• As the calendar turns to December tomorrow, the Wheat Kings should be feeling a sense of urgency to turn things around in a hurry after dropping eight of their last nine games to slip right out of a playoff position in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. Injuries to veterans Ryan Pulock, Jens Meilleur and Tyrel Seaman have clearly hurt, and the Wheat Kings will have another huge hole in their lineup when leading scorer Alessio Bertaggia leaves in a week or two to join the Swiss junior national team for a month. Pulock could also get the call from Hockey Canada to leave the Wheat Kings and attend the national junior team selection camp in Calgary when the tryout roster is announced Monday.
• Brandon’s Amanda Thornborough is overseas in the United Arab Emirates preparing to represent Canada at the prestigious Dubai Sevens rugby championship. The 22-year-old Thornborough, a Vincent Massey High School graduate who led the St.FX X-Women to the national university title earlier this month, will suit up on Canada’s second squad — the Maple Leafs — in the international side of the draw today and tomorrow. In her first year as a full A-carded national team athlete, Thornborough is hoping to compete for Canada in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janiero when rugby makes its Olympic debut.
• Also overseas are Brandon’s Cassie Hawrysh and Russell’s Jon Montgomery, who flew to Germany yesterday to prepare for the next three races on the World Cup skeleton tour. Hawrysh, a 28-year-old Neelin graduate, is ranked seventh in the world after posting back-to-back fourth-place performances following an 11th-place finish in her World Cup debut earlier this month. Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Montgomery, the Olympic gold medallist in 2010, is off to a slow start to his season after taking all of last year off, currently sitting 11th in the world rankings. They will race next week in the fourth stop on the World Cup tour in Winterberg, Germany as they continue to chase spots in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.