B.C. champions
Members of the Pen-Hi boys’ provincial-champion curling team are, from left: Tane Kita, Owen Manning, Keiji Kita, Zack Kuechle and coach Peggy Sakamoto.

DAVID CROMPTON/Penticton Herald

It might be an understatement to say curling has been quickly re-established at Penticton Secondary School.

After 32 years without a team, the Pen-Hi Lakers celebrated their return by capturing the 2018 B.C. Secondary School Boys’ Curling Championship this past weekend at Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster.

The team, featuring Tane Kita as skip, Owen Manning at third, Keiji Kita at second and Zack Kuechle at lead, went 6-2 in the three-day competition, beating Surrey’s Elgin Park 7-2 in the championship game.

Pen-Hi won the provincials for the first time since Don Wood skipped the team to the title in 1962.

“Tane, Owen, Keiji and Zack played with heart and determination in every game, never losing focus and staying positive as individuals and most importantly as a team,” said coach Peggy Sakamoto. “They truly have a passion for the sport of curling and I am very proud of them for their effort and championship win.”

The Lakers qualified for the provincials by winning the Okanagan Zone 6 competition in Kelowna in late-January.

At the provincials, the team came out meaning business, going 5-1 in the first six games to grab sole possession of first place in the eight-team round-robin competition.

Pen-Hi could have clinched the title by beating Elgin Park in the seventh games, but gave up a four-ender in the seventh to lose the game and leave the teams tied at 5-2 after the round-robin.

But Pen-Hi left nothing to chance in the tiebreaker game, jumping to the early lead and shaking hands with the Surrey team after seven ends.

Sakamoto said the boys are “extremely happy” to bring home the championship banner, and a traditional sculpture of granite and steel, which will have their names engraved for Pen-Hi to display until next season.

Hosted by St. George’s School, the 16 teams (8 boys, 8 girls) were ushered in with bagpipes for the opening ceremonies on March 1. A dinner and awards banquet followed the competition.

Other boys’ teams taking part were David Thompson (Vancouver), Burnaby North, Kwalikum Secondary (Qualicum Beach), Centennial (Coquitlam), Smithers and Grand Forks.

The Pen-Hi team wishes to thank coaches Peggy Sakamoto and Donna Cade, family and friends for their support, athletic director Steve Grant, principal Chris Van Bergeyk, Pen-Hi Parents Advisory Committee, the students and staff who supported their bake sale, and sponsors Fraternal Order of Eagles Club, Murray Buick GMC, Servco Carpet Care, Penticton Curling Club, A & K Grimm’s Sausage, Canada Safeway, Wouda’s Bakery, Dragon’s Den, and South Main Market.