Three Yukon teams went out with wins at the Western Canada Summer Games Fort McMurray, Alta.
Both soccer teams and Yukon’s male volleyball team beat territorial rival N.W.T. to avoid a last-place finish over the weekend.
The two soccer squads had mirror finishes to the Games, defeating N.W.T. 2-0 on Saturday to place fifth.
“I think we did what we hoped to do, what we hoped to achieve,” said Yukon female team coach Tony Gaw. “The kids were pretty excited about how it all ended.
“The Games were excellent. Fort McMurray was a great spot for the Games and no complaints at all – it went really well.”
Yukon’s female team opened the Games with a 7-0 loss to Manitoba before a 10-0 loss to Alberta before playing N.W.T. in the fifth-sixth place match.
They topped N.W.T. with goals from Dawson City’s Sarah Nyland and Whitehorse’s Jayden Demchuk, who tapped one in on a rebound from a shot from Jewel Davies.
Demchuk and Ava Cairns-Locke shared goalkeeper duties in the shutout.
Yukon’s male soccer team fell 11-0 to B.C. and 6-0 to Saskatchewan before the territorial showdown on Saturday.
They claimed fifth with goals from Simon Kishchuk and Skyler Bryant. Goalkeeper Seth Carey got the shutout in net.
“It was good to build on what we did (at a tournament last month) in Sweden and use that in the tournament at the westerns,” said Yukon male team coach Edgar Musonda. “Playing a very strong team, B.C., in the first game was kind of good because it gave the boys a measurement on where they’re at in team play. Going into the next games they improved the way they played.
“We were playing with 14-year-olds – the majority was 14 – and I think we have a bright future moving forward for the next tournament.”
Yukon’s male volleyball team produced their second win over N.W.T. on Sunday. After dealing N.W.T. a straight-set loss in the round robin, they did it again, winning 25-19, 25-23, 25-18.
Yukon’s female team took a set off N.W.T. in the round robin but lost in three sets to N.W.T. on Sunday in the fifth-sixth place game.
Cassis Lindsay, 14, and Luke Bakica, 15, faced some older competition in Fort McMurray. The two Yukon swimmers raced competitors three or four years older than them.
Still, Lindsay, who was Yukon’s flag-bearer at the closing ceremony, made the 100-metre freestyle final, placing eighth with a personal best of 59.94 seconds. Both swimmers set multiple personal best times.
“It went well,” said Yukon swim coach Malwina Bukszowana. “I was happy with the personal bests because the swim season was very long, so I thought they’d be too tired to swim in the middle of August, but they swam best times, which is great.
“They look better every race. Ever swim race we go to they are improving.”
Yukon’s badminton team had a tough go of it. They fell 6-3 to N.W.T. in the team play on their way to placing seventh out of seven teams behind N.W.T. in sixth and Nunavut in fifth.
However, Yukon did win two medals at the Games while their fellow territories failed to collect hardware.
A silver and a bronze are the first medals for the territory at westerns since the 2007 Games in Strathcona County, Alta. (Yukon was shutout in the medal standings at the 2011 Games in Kamloops, B.C.)
Whitehorse’s Hannah King ended Yukon’s eight-year medal drought just two days into competition. The 14-year-old captured bronze in judo, taking third in the females 57-63 kilogram weight class.
“That’s amazing! I didn’t expect that to happen,” said King. “I feel I did pretty good. I worked really hard for it.
“It’s been amazing – this is by far my favourite experience with judo,” she added. “I like that it’s a multi-sport Games, so I don’t only get to see judo, I’ve gotten to see basketball, I’ve gotten to see wrestling, I’ve gotten to see gymnastics.”
Whitehorse’s Brody Smith then added a second medal that was monumental beyond the scope of westerns. The 18-year-old won a silver medal in the 5,000-metre race walk on Aug. 10 to become the first Yukoner ever to win a medal in athletics at a major Games.
“I feel really proud,” said Smith. “I just started race walking this summer, so I’ve been training all summer for it. I don’t really have any background in it, this is my first race in race walk.”
Whitehorse’s Max Clarke and Benjamin Grundmanis became the first Yukoners ever to compete in beach volleyball at a major Games.
The two Yukoners went winless in five round robin matches in the first three days of competition under a blazing sun. They finished with their closest match of all, losing 9-21, 21-18, 15-11 to N.W.T. in the fifth/sixth place crossover match, finishing sixth on Aug. 11.
“It’s been an awesome time. There’s so much to learn still. There are some super strong teams to learn from, and they’re all super nice and friendly and they help you out,” said Grundmanis. “The entire experience has been pretty great.”
The next Western Canada Summer Games will be hosted by Saskatchewan in 2019.
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