Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/12/2018 (356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With an impressive number of Canadian champions, record-breaking performances, award winners and outstanding coaches and leaders, it’s fair to say the 2018 was a year to remember in the Westman sporting community.
Once again, we had some tough decisions to make for who would make the list of finalists for this year’s Brandon Sun H.L. (Krug) Crawford Memorial Award. We have settled on 16 individuals for the 61st annual award, emblematic of sporting excellence in southwestern Manitoba.
This year’s winner will be announced in the Jan. 2 edition of the Sun.
In order to be eligible, candidates must live in Westman during the season, or return home to reside in the region during the off-season. Players attending university or college while pursuing their athletic careers elsewhere in Canada or in the United States are also eligible. People are also eligible based on lifetime achievement.
Here are this year’s 16 finalists, listed in alphabetic order:
The 16-year-old Brandonite made history by becoming the first national champion from the Brandon Boxing Club. He took up the sport a year ago and earned the junior C boys’ novice provincial title in Shilo in March by defeating Winnipeg’s Aaron Maytwashing by technical knockout in 25 seconds. The six-foot-four, 195-pounder fought three matches (some were exhibitions) in eight days to be eligible for nationals —he needed to have five bouts under his belt — and then claimed the national crown by walkover in Edmonton as no one was in his age and weight class. He had a 4-0 record as a junior this year and was in three exhibition bouts.
The 21-year-old Brandonite became the first goaltender to start every game for the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team during an entire NCAA Division I season, and she did it while earning impressive credentials. She was named a Western Collegiate Hockey Association first-team all-star and goalie of the year after going 31-5-2 overall with an NCAA-leading 1.19 goals-against average and 12 shutouts as well as a .939 save percentage. Campbell was also a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award for the NCAA women’s hockey player of the year and a second-team all-American for guiding the Badgers to the national semifinals, where they fell 4-3 in double overtime to Colgate University. She also made the Canadian women’s development team and started one game in net for them. Campbell started the 2018-19 campaign with a 19-1 record, a 1.10 GAA and a .932 save percentage for Wisconsin.
Crowston is on the list for lifetime achievement for running the Riding Mountain Triathlon and helping it grow for more than a decade. Crowston and his wife Deb worked behind the scenes for years before officially taking it over in 2007. The annual event, held in August at Riding Mountain National Park, is the largest triathlon in Manitoba, drawing more than 500 athletes some years. The Crowstons ran the race every year, except for 2016 when Highway 10 was under construction, and finally sold it to Dave Lipchen this year. No one has done more for the sport of triathlon in Westman.
(Track and field)
The 15-year-old from Neepawa was one of the top-ranked high jumpers in her age class in the country all year and proved she had what it took when it mattered most. Denbow matched a personal-best jump of 1.70 metres to earn an under-16 girls’ gold medal at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships at Brandon’s UCT Stadium in August, an meet that features the best athletes from Canada. She was also eighth in the 300m race with a time of 42.56 seconds. Denbow’s resumé before nationals was just as impressive. She set a provincial indoor meet record for high jump at 1.69 metres, won a junior varsity gold medal in high jump at high school provincials when she cleared 1.65m and a silver there in the 400m race with a time of 59.29 seconds. At club track and field provincials, she finished first in high jump (1.65m) and the 300m (42.42 seconds) and cleared 1.66 metres at the Western Canadian championship to claim a high-jump gold there. She added a high school cross-country running silver medal to her collection in October before being named the province’s top jumps athlete by Athletics Manitoba. Denbow was also a nominee for midget female athlete of the year and Sport Manitoba recognized her with the Order of Excellence.
(Volleyball, basketball, curling, track and field)
It was hard not to notice the six-foot-seven student from Treherne during high school season. He was named a graduating all-star in volleyball and basketball, skipped the school’s curling team, ran cross-country and competed in the varsity boys’ pentathlon at the provincial high school track and field championships. He was named a tournament all-star at basketball provincials, where his team placed second, and the top male hoops player in the A division. He placed 15th in the pentathlon at track provincials as well. All this led him to being named the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association’s male athlete of the year.
The Swiss star had a sensational first season with the Brandon University Bobcats. The five-foot-10 left side cracked the team’s starting lineup and went on to smash a pair of Canada West conference records — most aces in a season with 72 and most aces per set with .772. The previous marks were 54 and .587. Egger also tallied 135 kills and dug up 220 balls and was named to the conference all-rookie squad. She started the 2018-19 season with 20 aces in 45 sets for BU.
Johnston started the season at running back for the Neelin Spartans and didn’t think he had the hands to be a receiver. That changed in the team’s Winnipeg High School Football League Division 2 season opener when he approached the coaching staff as he thought he could beat the opposing defensive backs and get open. Johnston caught seven passes for 222 yards in that game and became a receiving threat for the rest of the season. His connection with fellow Krug nominee Evan Nachtigall was evident as Johnston broke Dustin Herda’s WHSFL single-season record for receiving yards of 806 by finishing with 809 for the Spartans.
(Track and field)
The Prairie Storm Athletics Club had a breakthrough year and Koscielny is the main reason for that. He founded the Neepawa-based track and field program six years ago and, despite not having proper equipment and training facilities, he coached and helped produce the club’s first national champion in high jumper and sprinter Lara Denbow as well as some of the top athletes in the country. Daniele Dyck of Brandon finished fourth in the U18 girls’ 100-metre race at Legion nationals, missing a medal by .05 seconds, while Ben Perrett of Neepawa was fourth in the U18 boys’ 400m. Jorja Hoad of Brandon was sixth in the U16 girls’ 200m and Neepawa’s Daxx Turner placed fifth in the U18 boys’ triple jump, just five centimetres short of a bronze medal. Koscielny had a huge part in their success and continues to work hard to increase the popularity of track and field in southwestern Manitoba again.
Last year’s Krug winner is back on the list after another phenomenal year. The Brandonite won all five titles (singles, doubles, handicap, all-around and overall) at the Canadian championships that were hosted in the Wheat City on Canada Day weekend, which he helped organize. It’s only the second time that one person swept all five titles, a feat Lamont accomplished in 2015. He then went to the Grand American World Championship in Sparta, Ill., and won the NRA singles and Winchester AA class singles titles — both classes feature more than 2,000 competitors — and repeated as overall champion by hitting 986 of 1,000 targets. He was second for all-around by hitting 396 of 400 targets and runner-up in Blaser handicap with a score of 99 out of 100 plus a shootoff.
For the second year in a row, Baseball Manitoba’s high-performance coach of the year came from the Wheat City and appears on this list. Last year it was Faron Asham for leading the provincial team to a silver medal at the Canada Games. This time it’s for what Martine did with the Brandon Peewee AAA Marlins. Martine has been dedicated to this group of players born in 2005 for years. He ran extra camps for them before they entered mosquito and has continued to do so ever since. He had the team dedicated to the program and practising twice a week from January to April and doing whatever it took to be successful once the season began. The work paid off as he guided the Marlins to an 18-2 record in the Winnipeg AAA Baseball Association league and a provincial peewee AAA championship. The team went 35-8 this season and finished fourth at westerns, which Brandon hosted.
After backing up Dayton Black at quarterback for the Neelin Spartans for three years, Nachtigall finally had his time to shine as a starter under centre and he took advantage of it. Despite having an undersized offensive line, the Grade 12 student broke Black’s Winnipeg High School Football League single-season records for pass attempts and passing yardage. He finished the season 234 attempts and 1,985 yards and helped Johnston set the single-season receiving mark. He also plays basketball and helped Neelin win a AAA varsity boys’ provincial championship in March — scoring 10 points in the final — and was a Tier 2 tournament all-star at the Brandon Sun Spartan Invitational earlier this month.
The 2014 and 2016 Krug winner continued to represent the Brandon Eagles club and the Wheat City well on the international stage. Onyshko recovered well enough from injuries that plagued her since she competed in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil to finish first in the women’s all-around event at the International Gymnix competition in March. She added a silver medal on the uneven bars. Onyshko went to the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April and helped Canada earn its first women’s team gold medal at the event since 1990. The Brandonite also qualified for three finals and finished fourth on the beam with a score of 12.533 despite falling in her final, fifth on the uneven bars (13.200) and eighth all-around (51.900). At the national championships later in the year, Onyshko placed second all-around, first on the beam and fourth on the floor and bars.
Despite being a 15-year-old rookie in a hockey league for players as old as 17, Ritchie was a dominant force on the ice. A prospect of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, Ritchie finished second in Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League scoring with 84 points (40 goals, 44 assists) in 45 games. He was also named a first-team all-star while helping the Brandon midget squad reach the league final, where it was swept in three game by the Winnipeg Wild. He’s on a tear to start the 2018-19 season with a league-high 58 points in 28 games and has been called up to play with the WHL club twice.
The longtime coach of the Vincent Massey Vikings guided his team to a 4-3 record and a playoff berth for the first time in the Winnipeg High School Football League’s top division. Massey fell 28-0 to Garden City in the quarter-finals, but Steeves was rewarded after the season by being named the league’s coach of the year along with his staff.
This is the third straight year the Erickson product has been a nominee. Uhl had another solid season on the links, capped by winning her second provincial junior women’s championship in three years. This time, Uhl shot 13-over 230 at the Breezy Bend and St. Charles courses to win the 54-hole event by 16 strokes over Kate Gregoire. Uhl, who is now playing NCAA Division I golf at Longwood University in Virginia, also reached the final at Golf Manitoba’s women’s match play championship and placed sixth at the provincial women’s amateur. She missed the cut at junior nationals by one stroke.
Viles joined the Brandon University Bobcats men’s volleyball team as a highly touted recruit from Australia, and he has not disappointed. Viles followed up his first season, in which he was named to the national all-rookie team, with a second-team all-Canadian performance for the Bobcats. He finished third in Canada West in aces with 43, fifth for points per set with 4.0 and sixth for attack percentage at .282 while leading Brandon to a 17-7 regular-season record. The team was upset in the conference quarter-finals by the Winnipeg Wesmen. Viles also cracked Australia’s national B team in the summer and played in the Asian Cup, helping the team to a sixth-place finish. The left side is currently second in the conference for attack percentage at .348 midway through the 2018-19 campaign.
» The Brandon Sun