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A year where youth thrived

Among the many New Westminster sports highlights, the accomplishments of a handful of teenagers and one nonagenarian set the trend in 2019...

Some of the biggest accomplishments in New West sports in 2019 didn’t come at home.

The long list of accomplishments, not so surprisingly, came from all over as the athletes put their best efforts on display near and far.

Leading the charge were some talented teenagers, who raised the bar and broke records en route to making the Record’s Sports Highlights of 2019 list. Let’s begin...


On a foreign stage, before a strong field and a vocal crowd, New West’s Kate Stewart Barnett found herself in the spotlight.

Representing Canada at the NACAC track and field championships in Mexico last July, the teen posted the gold-medal winning time of 7:15.31 in the under-18 girls 2000m steeplechase, edging out Canadian teammate Cecilia Howes by nearly 20 seconds.

It was just one part of an incredibly successful season for the now-Grade 11 student of St. Thomas More Collegiate and Royal City Track and Field Club teammate.

Earlier in the season, the New West native won the B.C. high school heptathlon title with 4,241 points, edging out fellow STM and Royal City track teammate Alicia Bremer. Stewart Barnett’s victory in the heptathlon included firsts in high jump (1.59m) and the 800m (2:16.82), second in long jump and the 80m hurdles, and a bronze in the 200m event. She would later take the B.C. junior 1500m steeplechase crown.

In August, she continued her forward momentum by topping the Legion national youth track and field championships in Nova Scotia, topping the u18 2000m steeplechase with a time of 6:51.47.


The Royal City Curling Club’s Hayato Sato rink claimed the province’s first-ever Canada Winter Games men’s curling gold, beating Ontario 7-2 in the final for the title. It capped a 9-1 run through the competition, with the team’s lone loss coming to the favoured Ontario rink, which occurred during the round robin. “It was an incredible feeling,” Sato said of the victory. “They shook hands and my knees were just trembling there.”

The rink consists of Sato, lead Troy Chong, third Joshua Miki and second Dawson Ballard. Chong and Sato finished with the highest shooting percentage in the tournament. Chong would also receive the Team B.C. Athlete Excellence Award, a bursary based on leadership and community involvement.


New Westminster Secondary’s migration of athletes to post-secondary opportunities continues to flow, with the 2019 crop a bounty of potential. Leading the way were a pair from different sports – football’s Broxx Comia and swimming’s Octavia Lau. Comia, who accepted a scholastic offer from the University of Manitoba, said his sport has opened so many doors already.

“When we first got here (from the Philippines) I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Comia. “My friend got me into playing football and since then I met friends through football. It made me stay in school, because if I didn’t have football, I don’t know where I’d be now.”

“I actually highly disliked (swimming) when I was young. I was like five years old and I just kind of got into it because of my older brother,” recalls Lau, who entered the University of Michigan last September. “Whatever he was put in, I was put in as well. … I gradually started to get some results and I started falling in love when I was six or seven.”


Betty Brussel wouldn’t let a little number slow her down. Even if that number is 95. The nonagenarian from New West shattered the world record for women 95-to-99 with a record swim in the 50-metre breaststroke at a meet in Chilliwack in March. Brussel carved six seconds off the previous world mark. Although she has only taken up competitive swimming recently, Brussel broke into the Canadian record books earlier with at least four new marks.

A few months later, Brussel busted up a couple of other records at the B.C. Masters provincial championships. She set new world marks in the 200m breast. …


The New Westminster midget A Royals dominated when it counted, carting off the Richmond International and Coquitlam New Year’s hockey tournaments to start 2019 right. In Richmond, they went a perfect 6-0 en route to their divisional title, outscoring the opposition 32-8 along the way. Less than a week later, they repeated the feat in Coquitlam, beating Sooke 2-0 in the final. … Royal City Curling Club’s Sterling Middleton was a key member of Team Tardi, which captured the 2019 B.C. Junior Men’s Curling title with a 9-2 victory over Team Colwell in Vernon. Middleton, a Douglas College graduate and the team’s third, guided the team to a 6-0 lead early. … New West runner Ben Tjernagel established a personal best in the season-opening University of Washington Preview track meet in January, completing the 60m dash in 6.99 seconds. It put the Trinity Western University athlete in 19th spot against a field that included numerous Div. 1 NCAA opponents. … Although they’d fall short on a provincial tournament goal, the New Westminster senior boys Hyacks reached a pinnacle of sorts when they upset rival and defending league champion Byrne Creek 89-84 in the Burnaby-New West basketball playoff semifinal. Scoring 23 points apiece were Luke Burton and Mo Al-Ghreibawi. … The New Westminster Salmonbellies turned its first round draft pick into a veteran defender, swapping a handful of draft picks for Burnaby’s Justin Salt. In the draft, New West had to wait until the 21st pick to grab easterner Tanner Poole, a lefthanded sniper who played five games with the junior ‘Bellies. … It was a golden weekend on the mats for New West Secondary’s Willow Bayea, Daniel Dordevic, Titgol Jok and Nathan Saenz, who topped their respective divisions at the Lower Fraser Valleys, a qualifier for the high school provincial wrestling tournament. Bayea won the women’s 90kg title, Dordevic’s gold came in the men’s heavyweight division, Jok topped the 84kg division, and Saenz was first in the 90kg class. Picking up silver were Alec Lakusta, in the 66kg category, and Serena Ring, in women’s 69kg, while Kavin Giroux (70kg) and Forest Xu (heavyweight) each finished third… Jordan Karwacki and Maveric Romaniuk captured gold at the annual Aaron Johnson Memorial trampoline and double-mini competition in February. The pair, members of the host Shasta Trampoline Club, took top honours in the men’s Level 6 trampoline and Level 5 double-mini (Karwacki) and Level 5 trampoline (Romaniuk). Also winning their respective events were Jordan Wilmhurst (Level 6 trampoline) and Mario Bruno (sr. men’s trampoline). … New Westminster wrestlers Willow Bayea and Daniel Dordevic emerged from the B.C. High School championships with hardware in February. Bayea captured bronze in her senior girls 90-kg division, while Dordevic placed third in the senior boys 130-kg event. …  The New West senior boys Hyacks’ hopes of a provincial basketball run came to a halt at the 4-A Lower Mainland tournament in Richmond. Going up against defending B.C. champion Burnaby South in a must-win match, New West battled hard before succumbing 85-69. While they grabbed an early eight point lead, the Hyacks began the second half trailing by eight points and just couldn’t contain Burnaby South’s potent shooting game. “It’s too bad, because we came out and scored like crazy and were looking good at the start,” remarked New West coach Ted Cusick. “We were hitting our shots but then their defence tightened up and suddenly we weren’t hitting them.” Simon Cruz tallied 23 points, while Luke Burton chipped in 17. … With their provincial hopes hinging on a buzzer beater, the Douglas College men’s basketball team exited the PacWest league championship final with a sense of shock. They came within seconds of knocking off the favourite Vancouver Island University Mariners, who only won it thanks to a bucket at the buzzer that tied up the game and forced overtime. Douglas had edged ahead with just 1.2 seconds to play on Courtney Anderson’s shot before the Island’s Tyus Barfoot hit a jumper on a scripted play to tie it all up. VIU prevailed by outscoring the New West-based Royals 17-10 in the extra session, and 89-82 overall. Dylan Kinley and Anderson were named as PacWest all-stars. … New Westminster Secondary celebrated a throng of scholastic athletes who signed commitments to continue on their education and athletics after graduation. The list of achievers included lacrosse’s Noah Armitage (Stony Brook) and Ben Stewart (Hofstra), football’s Broxx Comia (Manitoba), Evan Nolli (SFU) and Kinsale Philip (Toronto), soccer’s Emma Hughes (Bishop’s) and Nisa Reehal (UBC) and swimming’s Octavia Lau (Michigan). “The big message today is you can have it all,” remarked New West football coach Farhan Lalji. “You get more when you’re a student athlete.” … After a silver medal finish at the PacWest provincials, the Douglas College Royals women’s volleyball team finished the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships in Welland, Ont. in fourth spot. Losses to King’s University (3-1) and Briercrest College (3-1) grounded their medal hopes. Picking up a CCAA first-team all-star honour was third-year outside hitter Vania Oliviera, while libero Trish He was named to the second squad. … Sheila Cowan’s Royal City Curling Club rink put up a valiant battle, placing second at the B.C. Women’s Senior curling championships in March in Trail. In a tight battle against Penticton’s Marilou Richter’s rink, single points in both the seventh and eighth ends decided it in a tight 6-4 final. The Cowan rink, which includes Donna Mychaluk, Sandra Comadina and Victoria Murphy, finished the tourney 5-2. … The Royal City Curling Club saw a pair of silver medals as the reward for strong seasons on both the under-18 boys and girls sides. Team Taylor lost out in the girls final to Kimberley’s Team Buchy 10-2. Team Taylor features skip Jensen Taylor, third Meredith Cole, second Keira McCoy and lead Chelsea Taylor. On the boys side, Team Sato – including skip Hayato Sato, third Joshua Miki, second Dawson Ballard and lead Troy Chong – were edged 9-4 by Vernon’s Team Colwell. … The Hyack Swim Club’s Justin Jung and Peter Huang came out of the water after setting red-hot paces in their respective events at last year’s Short Course winter age group provincial championships. Huang and Jung combined to capture 15 gold medals in the 13-and-under boys events, with eight wins for Jung and seven firsts for Huang. At the Long Course provincials, Octavia Lau and Madisen Jacques joined Sehajvir Singh and Huang as multiple medal champions at the Kamloops event. Lau topped five races in the graduating 16-and-over division, while Jacques collected a gold and two silver. Singh, meanwhile, scooped up a gold and a bronze, while Huang won once and netted a pair of silver. … New West’s Lilly Ujfalusi cycled her way to silver at the road and track nationals, including silver in the under-17 women’s points series. It was part of a four-medal week for the teen. … The Douglas College Royals were right on the button when it came to women’s curling. The team captured the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association title by edging the MacEwan Griffins 7-5 in New Brunswick in March. The rink, including skip Kayla MacMillan, third Patt Wallingham, lead Sam Kell and second Sarah Loken, caught the opposition by surprise with a string of well-played wins. … New West’s Vince Kocourek and Julie Valente put on nice displays of athleticism en route to medals at the Canadian Masters indoor track and field championships in Edmonton. Kocourek captured three gold – the 60m, 200 and 400m races in the men’s 65 division, while Valente picked up gold in the women’s 50-year-old 400m event. … Team Sutton delivered another title for the Royal City Curling Club, this time putting the hammer down for the B.C. Club Challenge crown. The men’s team, which includes skip Cody Johnston, third Will Sutton, second Bruce Currie and lead Christopher Summers, edged Delta 6-5 in extra ends for the crown. … New West’s Brenden Bissett tallied the game winner for Canada in their second field hockey match at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia. Bissett, who has played in 120 international games for Canada, helped the team place fourth overall at the international event. … New Westminster’s Jon Cornish got one more moment in the spotlight, celebrating a career full of them. The one-time Calgary Stampeders star running back was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as part of its 2019 class of honourees. Cornish, who hung up the cleats in 2015, posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons and was one of the top Canadians in the league since being drafted in 2006. He was just the third Canadian to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award, as well as the Lou Marsh Trophy as the nation’s top athlete. … In one of her first races as an NCAA runner, New West’s Grace Fetherstonhaugh captured the 3000-metre steeplechase title at the High Performance Meet in Corvallis, Oregon, to set an impressive debut with her Oregon State Beavers. Fetherstonhaugh settled into the lead early in the race and finished with a time of 10:31.17, the fourth-best time in Oregon State history. She wrapped up her first NCAA track and field season by shattering the Oregon State school record on the 3000m steeplechase, recording a time of 10:03.13 at the NCAA west prelim championships. It put her 14th overall, just shy of qualifying for the NCAA national championships. … … New West native Kyle Turris was named to Team Canada for the World Hockey championships, which were played in Slovakia last May. Turris, a member of the Nashville Predators, was making his third world championship appearance. He’d contribute four goals and five assists over 10 games, as Canada finished second to Finland in the tourney. … New Westminster’s Darlene Currie received a well-deserved honour in May, when she was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame for her achievements in basketball. Currie was a member of the Canadian women’s team that competed in three Pan-American Games, beginning in 1959, and was part of three national champions with Team B.C. in the 1960s. … New West’s Ella Foster not only cleared a personal best with her pole vault of 3.32 metres at the provincial high school championships, she also established a new B.C. high school mark just when the pressure was on. “To beat the record for juniors by one centimetre, it was beautiful,” said track and field coach Bryan McMaster. “She did it on her second attempt, and by then she was the last man standing.” Glenbrook Middle’s Levi Tuura took silver in the high jump. … Longtime New Westminster Salmonbellies president and general manager Dan Richardson announced in June that he would be stepping down upon the completion of the 2019 Western Lacrosse Association season, after 16 years at the helm. Richardson said he was disappointed to not bring a Mann Cup back to New West but felt the team was in good shape to continue the chase, as he steps back to spend more time with family and dedicate his boxla energies towards the National Lacrosse League’s Vancouver Warriors. …  New West’s Raquel Tjernagel was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic honourable mention list upon completing her third year with the University of Washington’s track team. During her first year at UW – after two seasons with the University of Texas – she contributed to a new school record in the women’s 4x400m indoor relay. … The Shasta Trampoline Club copped a bounty of gold from the B.C. trampoline championships. Registering first-place marks were Jordan Karwacki, Mario Bruno, Aurora Sanderson, Julia Ellis, Eleni Papkyriakopoulos, Jane Harrigan and Sam Smith. Earning silver medals were Maja Bonham, Jeremy Gibbons, Alexandra Javadyan, Hannah Brown, Svetlana Khrisanova, Norine Bao, Jordan Wilmshurst, Bruno and Karwacki. … It was a repeat performance for Florenz Knauer, while Alison Jackson earned her first title at the New West Grand Prix. Knauer is the only winner the Prix’s men’s pro division has seen, winning it in each of its first three years. Jackson outlasted a depleted field, with a wet circuit playing havoc on the riding crowd. … The New West junior A Salmonbellies completed the regular season on the strength of Kyle Hebert’s 59-save performance, doubling Langley 10-5. It helped avoid a first-round meeting with defending Minto Cup champion Coquitlam. Will Malcom capped off the regular season with five goals and two assists, giving him 106 points on the year and the BCJALL scoring title. “It feels really good,” the second-year forward said. “There are a lot of talented guys in the league this year, and again, I wouldn't’ be able to do it without the guys on my left side creating space for me.” … The New West bantam A girls lacrosse team made it to the top by beating Ridge Meadows 5-2 in the provincial final. Three straight goals by captain Lauren Black helped put the game in hand, with additional tallies from Teagan Ng and Kate McDonald. Netminder Myrah Ali was named the game’s MVP. Black would be presented with the B.C. Lacrosse Association Subway Player of the Year award. … Grace Fetherstonhaugh spent a good portion of her summer putting up good numbers, including capturing a silver for Canada at the under-20 Pan Am junior athletics championships in Costa Rica. Her second-place showing in the 3000m steeplechase – in a time of 10:32.13 – came after she garnered an early lead over the first 800m. Fetherstonhaugh was ranked 130th in the world for the 3000m steeplechase. …It was a rare quick exit for the New West junior A Salmonbellies in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League playoffs. The squad, which finished with the third-best record during the regular season, was eclipsed in a nail-biting seven-game series against Victoria. The deciding game came down to frantic third period where the ‘Bellies rallied from a 7-5 deficit to tie it, only to see the Shamrocks score a pair to advance to the league final. Malcom was named to the league’s first all-star team, while Tre Leclaire was selected to the second squad. …  New West’s Willow Beyea spent her summer wisely as well, earning a spot at the national women’s rugby training camp, while playing for Team B.C. at the Western championships. She also was selected to play with the Celtic Barbarians at the World Games in Paris. “I really like running 8-man picks so I take the ball off the back of the scrum and usually just jam the ball down the other team’s throat,” Beyea said. … The New Westminster Salmonbellies were well-represented when it came to WLA awards, with Mitch Jones leading the way. Jones netted both the Denny Huddleston Memorial award as the league’s scoring leader, as well as a spot on the first all-star team. There, he was joined by defender Mike Messenger. On the second all-star team, the ‘Bellies’ Brett Mydske and Jordan McBride were selected. The team’s playoff run ended in the first round when Maple Ridge eliminated them four games to two. … Michelle Dadson earned a silver at the Legion national youth track and field championships in Nova Scotia, finishing second in the u18 girls shotput event with a distance of 14.95m. Coming in third in the javelin was Lauryn Savela. … John Wilson and Paul Dal Monte earned their spot in the game’s most prestigious place, getting named to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame for 2019. Wilson was recognized for his offensive prowess and standout career over 14 seasons, where he produced 992 points over 394 games. Dal Monte, the current WLA commissioner, was named to the hall in the builders’ category, for his work as coach at a variety of levels, including as co-architect of the Burnaby junior Lakers’ Minto Cup run from 1998 to 2002. … Team B.C., led by a strong New West contingent, stepped up and dominated the show with a gold medal win at the national female midget lacrosse championships. New West natives Lauren Black, Layla Gould, Taylor Lee and Teagan Ng, played key roles in the victory, remarked coach Matthew Black. They put the exclamation point on their win by blanking Ontario 8-0 in the final. … It was also gold for B.C.’s female bantam team, with a 3-2 win over Ontario providing the gold. New West’s Beth Anderson tallied four goals and four assists over the eight games. … The B.C. boys bantam lacrosse team pushed it all the way to the final, with only Ontario getting between them and a gold medal. B.C.’s silver came after an 8-3 loss in the final, where New West’s Reid Hinds-MacDonald tallied twice. … Shasta Trampoline Club founder, coach and inspiration Val Johnson was put on pedestal, after being named as part of the newest inductees into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. Elected in the builders category, Johnson was recognized for her efforts in the sport of trampoline gymnastics, creating one of the most successful clubs in Canada and having promoted the sport tirelessly over the years. … A season with more ups than downs came to a tough finish in the B.C. Subway Bowl AAA football quarterfinals, as the New West Hyacks fell 36-7 to Lord Tweedsmuir. After advancing to the B.C. final the previous two years – including a championship in 2017 – New West battled some offensive inconsistencies and a tough opponent that blew open the game on a pair of long TD kick-off returns. Drawing onto the provincial all-star team were offensive lineman Pavan Kainth and defensive lineman Vishaan Narayan.. … Herman Susanto and Al Mawani were honoured by Badminton B.C. for their contributions in 2019. A New West native, Susanto was named the Volunteer of the Year, while Mawani picked up a High Performance coach award. The founder and driving force behind the Shuttlesport Badminton Academy in PoCo was joined in the honour circle by Joy Liu as the junior athlete of the year. … The Douglas College men’s soccer team zoomed to the top of the charts and knocked off pesky rival Vancouver Island 1-0 to capture the PacWest provincial title, earning B.C.’s top berth to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championships. Yanni Siafakas scored with 15 minutes to play to break a scoreless stalemate. Brazilian brothers Felipe and Rafael Domingos were among the award winners at the conclusion of the tournament; Rafael was voted the top goalkeeper, while Rafael was named the tourney MVP. Teammate Taylor Richardson, meanwhile, was chosen the Top Forward. … Nisa Reehal got to experience a pinnacle of achievement in just her first season with the UBC Thunderbirds. The squad rolled through the Canada West women’s soccer season with a dominating effort, and proved unstoppable at the U Sport national championships. The defeated Calgary 1-0 for the national crown. A freshman, Reehal would contribute to the run when she scored the game-winner in the Canada West semifinal against Trinity Western. … The New West Salmonbellies’ succession plan is aiming for a Mann Cup. Local figures Ray Porcellato and Paul Horn were tabbed with the task of replacing Dan Richardson, who resigned following the end of the WLA season, in the roles of general manager and president. Porcellato, a New West native, said winning is the No. 1 goal of everyone onboard. “It’s up to me to get the best players onboard with the ultimate goal of bringing a Mann Cup back to Queen’s Park.” … The Canadian men’s field hockey team secured a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a shootout victory over Ireland in a qualifying match played in West Vancouver. The national team’s lineup includes Burnaby’s Gabriel Ho-Garcia and New West’s Brenden Bissett.