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Favourites live up to billing during senior high school badminton championships

Cornerstone wins team title, top regular season performers dominate city tournament
The Moose Jaw high school senior badminton league usually gives a pretty good idea of who the favourites are heading into the city championships. And while there have been upsets in the past, the 2019 edition of the tournament was essentially business as usual.

The pre-tournament favourites picked up right where they left off in their quest for a city title, with each of the regular season standouts claiming their respective divisions

Leading the way was Cornerstone Christian School Falcons Grade 9 Kenzie Behrns, who posted a pair of commanding wins in the playoff round, defeating eventual bronze medalist Jenna Meili of Vanier 21-15, 21-9 in the semifinal before taking a 21-11, 21-9 win over Central’s Katie Coulson in the gold medal game.

“It’s pretty crazy actually, to be in Grade 9 and win,” Behrns said shortly before receiving her first senior gold medal. “I have four amazing coaches, they come to every practice and work one on one with me since badminton started and they really helped me.”

After sweeping the regular season league nights, Behrns had an idea that gold could be in the cards. But Coulson – the reigning silver medalist from last season – didn’t make it easy.

“Katie is really good and I knew she’d be tough competition in the gold medal game, and she was,” Behrns said.

Meili defeated Central’s Affat Kashif 21-16, 21-7 to win bronze.

Vanier’s Hayden Ma had a bit of tougher series of league night draws in boys singles, but his only losses were to out-of-town players who were ineligible for cities. So when it came time to face players from Moose Jaw alone, success was in the cards for the defending champion from 2018.

Ma took a 21-13, 21-16 victory over Central’s Spencer Newans in the semifinal and downed Joel Goddard of Cornerstone in a close battle 23-21, 21-17.

“Today I was pretty confident until the gold medal match, Jo Jo did really good,” Ma said, admitting that Goddard pushed him a bit more than expected.

For most of the night, though, it was all about keeping things on an even keel and simply getting the wins out of the way.

“I did play safe and played well, it was really good tonight,” he said. “Sometimes shots that I take that go to the line go out so tonight I was playing more to the middle a bit. It’ll help me a lot in districts, or regionals or provincials, too, wherever I end up.”

Cole Morash defeated Newans for bronze.

The boys doubles league season has been largely a walk in the park for brothers Oliver and Xavier Bilodeau of Ecole Ducharme, but things became plenty interesting in the semifinal, as they battled to a 24-26, 21-19, 21-12 win over Vanier’s Logan Hauser and Cooper Cole. The final was much smoother, though, as they downed Cornerstone’s John Ferris and Zach Beitel 21-14, 21-14 to claim gold.

“It was kind of different from where we used to play before back in Yellowknife, there’s a lot more competition and some of the teams gave us a good run towards the end,” said Oliver who with Xavier and their family moved here this past summer. “It was pretty good.”

The Grade 12 duo used their experience to perfection throughout the year, and cities were no exception.

“It’s helpful because we’ve been playing for a little bit now so we know where we’re going to be and what we have to do,” Xavier said. “That helps a lot.”
Cooper and Hauser repeated as bronze medalists with a 21-16, 16-21, 21-18 win over Cornerstone’s Ben Lewis and Noah Braun.

Central’s Dream Perez and Alex Yee had also had a solid regular season and parlayed that success into mixed doubles gold after settling for bronze last year. The defeated Cornerstone’s Javan Atkins and Aki Nuboka 21-17, 21-19 in the semifinal before battling to a 21-18, 21-17 win over Desiree Rader and Gauge Adams in the gold medal game.

“It’s overwhelming,” Perez said with an excited laugh.

Yee felt much the same way, with their regular season run helping with the nerves in the title game.

“It makes it easier, but there’s a little more pressure… I think we handled it pretty well,” he said.

Atkins and Nuboka defeated teammates Erica and Caleb Kaminski to win bronze.

The girls doubles draw was the one major question mark heading into cities as different teams had won each of the league nights. In the end, the team of Caitlin Miller and Serena Schlamp from Peacock emerged with gold, downing defending silver medalists Claire Astrologo and Juliana Gerapusco of Vanier 22-20, 20-22, 21-4 in the final. They reached the title game with a 21-6, 21-11 win over Hinano Fujihara and Ari Shimada of Cornerstone.

“Especially coming up from junior as a Grade 10 and playing at the senior level, it feels great,” said Miller.

“We weren’t really expecting the season to be a gold medal season, we had it last year in junior but it was a really nice surprise and we worked really hard for it,” added Schlamp.

The Cornerstone Christian School Falcons won the overall team title.

Next up for the city champions are the district championships in Caronport on Saturday.


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