The Winston Knoll Wolverines

May 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Canadian Sport Features, Profiles

The path to success has been far from conventional for the Regina-based Winston Knoll Wolverines, but regardless of the path, victory is just as sweet. The mixed curling team walked away from the Saskatchewan High School Sports Association Provincial Championships on March 5th with a well-deserved gold medal in hand.

The team, consisting of skip Matthew Ring, third Jaci Hutton, second Aaron Vandermeulen, and lead Kyira Johnson, completed its regular season play with a commendable 6-1 win-loss record and a first place standing moving into the league playoffs.

A disappointing defeat by the O’Neill Titans in the city final left the Wolverines in low spirits, until they were given an unexpected second chance to prove themselves. Two members of the Titans were set to compete at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax and were unable to attend the regional qualifying tournament due to a timing conflict. O’Neill was forced to withdraw, and as runner-up, Winston Knoll was granted their spot and took advantage.

Another surge of luck brought the Wolverines the top draw for the regional playoffs, providing them with an advance to the two-day provincial championship to be held at the Callie Curling Club in Regina. As provincial championship veterans with a fifth place finish the previous year, Ring and Vandermeulen were determined to rise to occasion and triumph over the competition, which consisted of seven teams from across Saskatchewan. Just prior to the championships, a major strategic change was made to the longtime Wolverine team structure, with Johnson and Hutton agreeing to swap positions for the good of the team. Under this new arrangement, the Wolverines proceeded to the championship.

Unsatisfied with their 2-2 win-loss record at the end of the opening day, the team strove to make their second and final day a better one. The Wolverines achieved a 7-5 win in the quarterfinal and followed it with a 7-3 semi-final win against Yorkton Regional, to whom they had lost the previous day. The team continued to rally and produced their third consecutive win against Norquay in the tournament finals, with a crushing 6-1 victory.

This marks the first time that a Regina high school has won a provincial mixed curling title since 2002, when Winston Knoll’s rival O’Neill took home the gold. It represents an exciting accomplishment for the Winston Knoll foursome and serves to show that a little bit of luck, openness to change, and a lot of stamina can go a long way. Congrats, Wolverines!

Members of the Winston Knoll Wolverines mixed curling team at the 2011 SHSAA provincial championship.

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