2018 was one for the books, as Powell River athletes set and broke records in their respective sports. Teams and individuals from the very young to the not-so-young inspired and were a source of pride to the community with their hard work and determination.
When Powell River Outrigger Canoe Society set off in late July to compete in the World Outrigger Sprint Championships in Papeete, Tahiti, they had lofty goals, which they exceeded. With the guidance and vision of coach Michael Matthews, the team came home with two gold medals and a silver medal, and broke a world record in the process.
The women’s crew won gold representing Canada in the masters 70-plus division with a record time, and silver in the 70-plus division in another race. Sue Milligan of Powell River won gold in the 70-plus singles. In the final medal standings, Canada tied for third place with Australia in the elite category and placed fourth in the club category.
Victor Njume, 75, also broke records this year. He returned from the Canadian Masters Track and Field Championships with a gold medal and a new national record in javelin, gold in the 400 metres and a silver medal in shot put.
Powell River mixed martial arts competitor Michael Hill realized a dream when he was crowned welterweight champion after his fight at the Xcessive Force Fight Championship. Hill won in a unanimous decision victory. The five-round fight was the main event of the evening and brought Hill’s overall record to 11-4-1.
12-year-old Powell River figure skater Jaya Nouwens won the top prize in the Star 4 Under 13 category at Skate Canada’s 2018 Super Series.
Wrestler Abby Lloyd has her sights set on the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo. She won a national title in February at the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association championships in Oklahoma City, taking the gold in the 53-kilogram weight class.
Powell River’s Graham Cocksedge and Lucien Ervington were added to University of Victoria’s Sports Hall of Fame as members of the Vikes’ men's cross-country team of 1994 to 1997. Cocksedge was also half of the team that won the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race this September with Max Cameron Secondary School graduate Nygil Goggins.
Athletes from Powell River Aquatic Club made waves this year, bringing home medals in several categories from the BC Summer Swimming Association provincial swim meet. Madison Giesbrecht, Ayva Gunther, Ainsley Needham, Adianta Cocksedge-Hamilton and Saphire Mitchell were among team members who achieved great results.
Powell River Gymnastics and Cheer had some exceptional accomplishments in provincial competitions and Powell River’s Junior Gymnastics Team attended its first-ever meet last spring. Gymnasts Gabrielle Marshman, Samantha Lambert, Panagiota Rounis, Olivia Raffin, Larissa Laing and Kyla Randle were part of that group.
Powell River Midget Rep Kings won the BC Hockey Midget Tier 3 Championships in March. Powell River outscored its opponents by an impressive margin of 43-10 in their final nine playoff games. The midget reps finished with an overall record of four wins and one tie at the four-day tournament. Powell River Bantam Rep Kings claimed a bronze medal at the tier three provincials in Nelson with a 3-2 win over Penticton.
Track and field athletes from Brooks Secondary School had a breakthrough year in 2018. At the BC High School Track and Field Championships, Brooks returned with six medals. Samantha Baron, 16, was a gold medalist in 300-metre junior hurdles, claimed a silver in 80-metre hurdles and just missed the podium in long jump, finishing fourth. Also in the junior division, Drew Sundberg, 15, brought home three bronze medals in long jump, triple jump and javelin, and Keegan Abbott, 16, brought home bronze in discus. Chris Fisher, 16, a junior running against more experienced grade 12 athletes, placed fourth in senior steeplechase. Cole Baron, 14, finished just out of the medals with a fourth in grade eight boys high jump.
Two Powell River track and field athletes were on the podium as medalists at the BC Summer Games. Brooklyn Vanderkemp won bronze as part of the District 6 girls 4x400 relay team and just missed out on the medals in the 80-metre hurdles, finishing in fourth place. She also had a sixth-place finish in 300-metre hurdles.
Stan Vishek was a bronze medalist in the boys 4x400, placed fifth in the 300 metres and came in 16th in the 200-metre race. Two athletes achieved personal bests: Haedyn Drosdovech in triple jump and Russell Bruckshaw in the long jump. Drosdovech also placed fourth with his district teammates in the 4x100 relay. Cole Baron played on the District 6 basketball team, which finished the games in sixth place.
Three years ago, Cocksedge, a teacher at Brooks, wanted to bring back track and field and asked Connie Polman Tuin, Scott Glaspey and Jeff Pollitt to coach with him. This year, Dean Thorsell took over duties as head coach, adding Cale Hernandez to the coaching staff.
For the first time since 1997, Powell River played host to the AAA High School Girls BC Volleyball Championship in November. The championship featured 16 teams, some 200 players, from around the province. Defending champion Crofton House School took the gold medal; Brooks Secondary School Thunderbirds placed 14th.
28 students from Canadian Martial Arts Academy in Powell River, ranging in age from nine to 50, travelled to Okinawa, Japan, for a two-week learning and cultural immersion on the island known as the birthplace of karate. The trip was organized by sensei Frank Clayton.
In May, Powell River Kings hired Tyler Kuntz as the BC Hockey League team’s new head coach and general manager. Kings advanced through two playoffs rounds before being eliminated by Prince George in a semi-final series.
Jodi and Mike Mastrodonato were recipients of BC Hockey’s Fred Heslop Award, given out annually to five deserving hockey volunteers around BC.
Powell River Tennis Centre welcomed Gary Winter as its new director of tennis and head pro in September.
Powell River Regals hockey club picked up the $199 fee for 30 children aged five to 10 to take part in Canadian Tire’s First Shift program, which provides them with a full set of hockey gear, ice time with coaches and the chance to learn Canada’s national winter sport in a fun way.
2018 was a great year for Powell River Villa FC, including promotion from Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 3 to Division 2. With a five-point lead on nine wins, a tie and three losses for 28 points, Villa is comfortably sitting in first place in Division 2, a position it has held all season.
Sunshine Coast Trail’s Marathon Shuffle and Half Shuffle event marked 25 years in 2018 and BC Bike Race returned to Powell River for its ninth year. Texada Island’s Run the Rock full and half marathon celebrated eight years, and the Savary Island Triathlon had its 18th outing.
An international group of ultra runners led by French trail runner/adventurer Christophe Le Saux and ultra runner Tiffany Saibil took part in a timed stage race over the 180 kilometers and 6,000 metres of elevation through the Sunshine Coast Trail in late August.
Stay tuned as in 2019, the first group of inductees of Powell River Sports Hall of Fame will be honoured at a banquet and community event planned for June 15.