Win or lose, Whitehorse curler Sarah Koltun is going into the record books this month.
Team Koltun won their eighth consecutive girls title at the Yukon Junior Curling Championships held at the Whitehorse Curling Club on Dec. 21.
The win will send the skip to her eighth Canadian Junior Curling Championships later this month, a record for the national event. It will be the final appearance at the junior nationals for Koltun, who will age-out after this season.
Her team placed fourth at last year’s junior nationals.
“It’s really exciting because no one else has been able to attend this many junior national events,” said Koltun. “It’s weird that it’s become the last shot because it’s become a normal part of my life. Every year we playdown and we’ve made it to junior nationals.
“It’s weird that it’s my last shot, but hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage of the opportunity, play really strong and go out with a bang.”
Koltun and former junior teammate Chelsea Duncan, who aged-out at the end of last season, set the current record of seven appearances at the junior nationals last year.
The Koltun rink, which includes third Patty Wallingham, second Jenna Duncan and lead Andrea Sinclair, defeated Team Horte 8-2 and 8-6 in the best-of-three playdown at the Yukon championship.
“I think we played pretty well. In the second game I was struggling for a while and the other team was able to come back a bit,” said Koltun. “My teammates were able to keep us in the game and were shooting well and gave us a better chance at holding on for that win.”
Tied 6-6, Koltun scored two in the ninth end to win in the decisive game against Team Horte, which consists of skip Bailey Horte, third Kelsey Meger, second Kelly Mahoney and lead Sian Molloy.
“They played really well and they’re really happy with how they played,” said Team Horte coach Rhonda Horte. “Obviously there were a couple shots had they made it would have turned the tables, but overall they played really well.
“Bailey’s team has played together for many years, it’s just age that makes a difference. Sarah’s team has more experience.”
Koltun is currently competing with her women’s rink in Yellowknife, N.W.T. for a shot at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts - the Canadian women’s championship.
Her women’s rink includes Chelsea Duncan as third, Wallingham as second and Sinclair as lead.
Wallingham wins in junior boys
Whitehorse’s Joe Wallingham and Spencer Wallace have punched their ticket for their second junior nationals.
Team Wallingham secured Yukon’s junior boys title with 12-2 and 9-4 wins over Team Nerysoo in the boys draw.
It will be Wallingham’s first trip to nationals as skip.
“It’s definitely a lot different because last year we had Mitch (Young) and Will (Mahoney) with their experience and they helped us along really well,” said Wallingham. “It is a little more pressure but it’s going to be fun.”
The Wallingham crew, which includes third Brayden Klassen, Wallace as second and lead Trygg Jensen, overcame a 3-0 deficit in the second game against Nerysoo for the title.
“My team really came out to play,” said Wallingham. “We played really well together, gelled as a group. We prepared well and played well.”
“The first game was probably the best game we’ve played all year,” said Wallingham coach Kevin Patterson. “They all came together and focused on the task at hand and knew what their goal was and succeeded in it.”
On board Team Nerysoo were skip Eric Bailey Muir-Cressman, with Chris Nerysoo at third, Karn Seaman as second and Will Klassen throwing lead.
Horte, Wallingham set for Arctic Games
The pressure of the Yukon junior championships was good preparation for the Wallingham and Horte rinks, who will represent Yukon at the Arctic Winter Games this March in Fairbanks, Alaska.
However, both rinks will likely have changes in the rosters.
Team Horte, who won silver at the 2012 Arctic Games in Whitehorse, will exchange Sian Molloy, who is to old for the Games, for Meger’s little sister Alyssa.
On Team Wallingham, Will Klassen, Brayden’s little brother who played for Team Nerysoo at the Yukon championships, will likely take the spot of Wallace at the Games.
Wallace was on the gold-winning Yukon boys rink at the 2012 Games.
The Arctic Winter Games will take place in Fairbanks, Alaska, March 15-22. Canadian Junior Curling Championships will be hosted by Liverpool, Nova Scotia, January 18-26.
“I think they’ll have a pretty good shot at it,” said Koltun of Team Horte. “They did well last time they went to Arctics and their team has been coming together pretty well. Every year they come to the playdowns and put up a strong fight.
“We wish them the best.”
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