2019 Sports: Year in Review Part 3

With 2020 just days away, lets take a look at the biggest highlights and stories of the year in Fort St. John and the Peace Region. We continue with part three — July to September.

JULY

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WATSON SECOND, CULLING FOURT AT CALGARY STAMPEDE

Jake Watson and Stephen Culling had top five finishes at the 2019 Calgary Stampede. Jake Watson took second place in his saddle bronc pool, while Culling finished fourth in steer wrestling. Watson earned  $12,500 for his aggregate earnings, while Culling took home $8,500. Clayton Moore finished ninth overall.

RITCH HOSKER CLEANS UP AT LOCAL TOURNAMENTS

Ritch Hosker may be old enough to play seniors golf events now, but he’s still more than capable of beating younger challengers, too. Look no further than his back-to-back victories at the 2019 Fort St. John Links Open and 2019 Peace Country Open the past two weekends for proof. 

Hosker won at the Links Open on July 6 to defend his 2018 title, and beat Justin McKinnon in a two-hole playoff on July 14 at Lakepoint to win his first Peace Country Open title in four years. 

“It’s been quite enjoyable. Both courses are in really good shape, which makes it more fun to play. There’s great competition, and everyone is very friendly and supportive of each other,” said Hosker. 

JET BOAT RACES WRAP UP SMOOTHLY DESPITE FIRE

The 2019 World Jet Boat Championships held their final two days at Taylor, with the final leg of the race on the Peace River near Peace Island Park, and concluded with an awards banquet at the Fort St. John Curling Club, which saw more than 400 people in attendance. 

Near the end of the race, the Kiwi Kiwi team from New Zealand, consisting of driver Nigel Cromie and navigator Bruce Cromie, had their boat catch on fire out on the river. The team was able to get the boat to shore and escape safely, but dropped from second in the Unlimited Class to third as a result. 

“To Nigel and Bruce, that was one of the most unfortunate things we’ve seen this weekend but we’re glad you guys are safe, and fast at getting out of a boat,” said Dale Whiteside, master of ceremonies at the banquet.

BLACK SOX HOST EXCELLENT PROVINCIALS

Despite hosting the Baseball Alberta Single-A Bantam Tier 1 Provincials on relatively short notice, Fort St. John and the North Peace Black Sox Baseball Association couldn’t have done a better job.

Plamondon won the championship, after hanging on to beat Wainwright 8-7 in a very close final.

“I’m super excited with how this weekend went. It’s a win-win for baseball in Fort St. John. There were lots of people here who had never been before, and we had lots of local fans out who have no kids or family playing baseball,” said North Peace Minor Baseball President Forrest Liddicoat.

KEILY STEWART MAKES FOR AWESOME STAMPEDE PRINCESS

Keily Stewart’s year-long tenure as Calgary Stampede Princess culminated in the 2019 Calgary Stampede in July. 

Being a rodeo princess or queen is a lot more than just riding around the ring and waving. It includes going to countless events, representing the Stampede, public speaking, and riding, among other things.

“It’s a full-time job, which most people don’t understand and I didn’t either. We went to almost 450 events throughout Alberta and the world,” Stewart said. 

“It’s an experience that will take a lifetime to truly and fully understand and appreciate. It’s been such a huge learning curve for me and it’s very much a blur right now.”

WYATTE COPELAND, BEN JACKSON WIN CANADIAN RODEO CHAMPIONSHIPS

Fort St. John’s Wyatte Copeland is the Peace Region’s lone senior Canadian High School Champion after he won the boys cutting event at the 2019 Canadian High School Rodeo Finals in Merritt, July 26 to 28. Copeland also won the boys cutting short go for an extra cash prize, and was named the Canadian reserve all around champion.

While Ben Jackson wasn’t the Canadian champion in every single event, he had a great weekend and won the senior boys all around title.

Gracie Chapple of Fort St. John was the Canadian rodeo queen for the weekend.

LOCALS DOMINATE AT NORTHERN CLASSIC

Local bodybuidlers won 20 of the 29 classes at the 2019 Northern Classic Naturals bodybuilding competition. 

The top local performers were Cenia Bock (four first place, two second place, and one third place finish), her daughter Faith Bock (three first place and one third place finish), and Faye Anstey (three first place finishes). Cenia had four first-place finishes a year ago.

LANE HARRIS WINS SILVERS AT KICKBOXING NATIONALS

Lane Harris won two silver medals at the World Kickboxing Association (WKA) Canadian National Championships in Edmonton, July 26 to 28. After winning his fights in both the K1 division and Muay Thai division at 189 pounds, Harris advanced to the finals of both, with good odds of coming back to Fort St. John with at least one gold medal. 

Harris was winning the K1 final through two rounds, according to coach Justin Donally, where his shoulder popped out of joint. The fight was paused, and the doctor came in to check on Harris. Although  Donally and Harris were able to pop the shoulder back into place, the doctor wouldn’t let Harris finish the fight, nor compete in the Muay Thai final that was still to come, resulting in Harris settling for two silver medals.

AUGUST

TIM ZIMMER WINS WESTERN CANADIAN RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

Tim Zimmer won the 2019 U18 Western Canadian Rugby Championship as a starter on the B.C. U18 team on Aug. 4 in Regina, just two years after he began playing the game. 

“To represent Fort St. John and win the Western Canadian Championship is an honour. It always feels good winning a championships, but to have two this year is an even greater feeling,” Zimmer said. He won the 2019 Peace Country High School Championship with NPSS earlier in the year.

To say the B.C. U18 team dominated the tournament would be an understatement. They went 4-0, allowing just five points (all in the final), to go with three shutouts. 

TOURNAMENT OF HOPE REDEYE PUSHES THROUGH DESPITE RAIN

Another fun-filled, rowdy edition of the Allen Lafleur Tournament of Hope has come and gone, as the 13th annual tournament took place last weekend, August 16 to 18. The rain held off until late-Saturday afternoon, but, in the end, the weekend was as wet and muddy as expected. Still, those who played in and put the tournament on had another great time.

“It didn’t rain as much as we thought it would, but it still rained a lot,” said tournament committee member Velma Spencer. “But it was a great weekend, we had no real problems and everyone seemed to have fun.”

The Warriors won the 2019 A event championship, beating the Chetwynd Padres in the final. It was The Warriors’ second-straight tournament win after taking the Fort St. John Mixed Slow Pitch A event title on August 11.

TEAM CHINA TRAINS AT POMEROY

The Chinese National Speed Skating Team was in town for their main training camp, August 26 to September 4. The team usually trains in Calgary, but with the next Winter Olympics in 2022 set for Beijing, the team wanted to skate on ice a little slower more than the ice in Calgary.

“They wanted to get used to the conditions. We’re excited to have them and that it worked out,” said Elks Coach Jenn Gibson. 

SEPTEMBER

CROSSLEY, BOWIE RETURN TO FORT ST JOHN FOR WHL SHOWCASE

For Prince George Cougar forwards Connor Bowie and Austin Crossley, both from Fort St. John, playing close to home isn’t anything new, but is certainly something they never thought they’d get to do at the WHL level. 

The Cougars were in Dawson Creek for their final two pre-season games on September 12 and 14 against the Edmonton Oil Kings, and were the defacto home team, as seemingly the entire crowd was rooting on Bowie and Crossley’s team. 

“It was unreal, I never thought I’d play north of Prince George again. Seeing my family and friends at the game, and people I played with and their parents, was surreal,” said Crossley. 

WORLD CHAMP GREGG BARSBY WINS BATTLE OF THE PEACE 4

For the first time, the Battle of the Peace was held at Farmington Fairways instead of Lone Wolf. The Battle of the Peace 4 had the largest Men’s Open Division in Northern B.C. history, according to tournament director Daniel Martin. 

Unsurprisingly, the Men’s Open champion was 2018 Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) world champion Gregg Barsby. Barsby was in the Peace Region to host the Barsby Challenge in Fort St. John on September 20.

“It’s an incredible honour, we’re a small town and very small in the disc golf world. The course is just starting its fourth season and we’ve already attracted the world champion, so thanks to the city,” said Clint Warkentin, assistant tournament director of the Battle of the Peace along with his wife Elena.

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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