Be it individuals or teams, New Westminster had its share of big sports stories in 2018. From track and field to the gridiron, returning champions displayed enormous character and determination to return to prior heights – sometimes successful, sometimes not.
It’s time to put a wrap on a year where promise, potential and heartache had their moments. You can’t win them all, but putting your best to the test is the sign of a winner any day of the year.
1 - Whether it was in Kansas State or Canadian colours, New West’s Nina Schultz continued to do what she does best – break records. The 19-year-old NCAA sophomore represented her school and her country well in a year of great accomplishments. Schultz built upon a standout freshman track and field debut by helping the Kansas State University Wildcats to a hot start and a great finish. The heptathlete and pentathlete would refresh her personal bests in nearly every event, including the seventh-best all-time pentathlon score in NCAA indoor history in February, while establishing a new Canadian under-20 national record as well, at the Texas Tech Shootout. In the first two meets of the indoor season, Schultz won each event entered to help position her team well for a run to the nationals.
She’d finish second at the NCAA indoor finals in March, carting off All-American honours as well as a number of PBs and school records. A month later, Schultz ventured to Australia where she picked up a silver medal in the heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games. At the event, the Canadian put up a bevy of personal bests, including a 100-point improvement on her previous mark, as well as PBs in the 100m hurdles, the 800m, the long jump and high jump.
Schultz wasn’t 100 per cent healthy but did contribute as the Wildcats repeated as Big-12 outdoor champions in preparation for the nationals. And while she didn’t match her amazing freshman performance in 2017, when she was the heptathlon runner-up at the NCAA championships, the New West native was still impressive. Schultz finished seventh overall, scoring 5,778 points despite lingering effects of injury and taking first-team All-American honours. She’d cap the year by receiving the Canadian National Federation’s under-20 Athlete of the Year award.
2 - Repeating as champions, it’s been said, is harder than winning it the first time. For the New Westminster Hyacks football team, it is something they can attest to.
The AAA 2017 Subway Bowl champs gave it their best shot, marching all the way to the provincial final before bowing out 48-24 to Mount Douglas in December. Along the way, the Hyacks handed out their share of sad decisions, beating No. 1 Lord Tweedsmuir and No. 2 Terry Fox to draw into the final.
Exiting with a provincial all-star honour
was lineman Evan Nolli, while Daniel Dordevic, Kinsale Philip, Broxx Comia and Nolli were named conference all-stars.
3 - A national championship is one thing, but to take on the world, that’s something completely different. It is exactly what the Tyler Tardi rink did in March, and one it excelled at in beating Scotland 6-5 for the men’s world junior curling championship in Britain.
With New West resident Sterling Middleton at third, the squad built on its national title with a red-hot performance at the worlds. Although they trailed the host Scottish team 1-0 and 2-1, the Tardi team remained focused and would garner a temporary 5-2 lead after seven ends. The Scots, boistered by a United Kingdom crowd, rallied in the 10th end to tie it.
In the 11th end it was nail-biting time. Canada captured the crown with a draw on the last rock of extra ends. The rink called both the Langley and Royal City curling clubs its home base.
4 - New Westminster’s Grace Fetherstonhaugh capped her high school track career with gold in the senior girls 1500-metre steeplechase, setting a new B.C. high school provincial record with a time of 4:50.94. It broke the standard she established a year previous. She also netted a silver in the 1500m race, trailing only friend and rival Taryn O’Neill of George Elliott, who set a new provincial record in that middle distance. It came after the 17-year-old had won three of four events at the district championships.
In Finland for the IAAF world under-20 championships, Fetherstonhaugh delivered a strong performance and placed 11th overall in the 3,000m event. She launched a new direction upon graduation, accepting a full-ride track and field scholarship to Oregon State.
5 - For Doug Woodward, the season was less a swan song than a celebration. The longtime New West Secondary senior girls basketball coach piloted his team to the provincials, getting a win in their final game before hanging up the clipboard after a 30-year coaching career.
Although the squad didn’t have much luck en route to finishing 15th at the B.C.s, New West did give Woodward a win in their final game, beating North Peace 91-23. It capped a 30-6 season. The Hyacks entered the B.C.s after finishing third at the Lower Mainlands to claim the final berth to the provincials.