The year that was for TRU sports

Nathan Crosby, Sports Editor  Ω

WolfPack teams skated, swung, smashed, shot, dribbled, danced, ran, kicked and screamed their way into writing another chapter of TRU’s growing athletic programs.

It was the women’s teams who stole the spotlight this year with the volleyball, basketball and soccer programs all making the playoffs in their respective leagues.

The year started with the women’s soccer team winning the PACWEST title, defeating UBCO 2-1 for the school’s first conference title in the sport since 2004.

The heroic effort of Alanna Bekkering, who scratched her retina in the semi-final game against Langara College, was the stuff of sports lore. She scored both goals in the championship game, including the overtime winner and was named Championship MVP.

The team went on to represent TRU at the CCAA Nationals in Québec City where they finished fourth in the country. The team was defeated by the Ahuntsic Indiennes 3-0 in the semi-finals but was voted the most sportsman-like team at the tournament.

The women’s volleyball team achieved a new benchmark this year in wins and for the first time since joining the CIS, made the playoffs.

The team went on a five-game winning streak that started with a win over Brandon on Jan. 20. Captain Kelly Asleson finished in the top 20 in hitting percentage and kills in the Canada West and setter Kara Twomey finished sixth in assists.

While the team will say goodbye to Asleson and Twomey as well as Amanda Frayne and Vanessa Wiebe, the team’s future looks to be heading in the right direction with the emergence of Anne Weiss, Brianne Rauch and libero Sara Pettersson.

The team finished with a 9-11 record under the tutelage of coach Keith Lundgren and eventually lost in the first round of the playoffs to Alberta.

The women’s basketball team also made the playoffs for the first time, finishing the season on a four game winning streak and a 9-9 record.

The team was one of the best rebounding teams in the Canada West. Forward Diane Schuetze finished first in scoring and third in rebounding and Jorri Duxbury finished second in assists.

The team looked to be out of it in January when they hit a four game losing streak, but the team pulled through with back-to-back wins over Trinity Western and UBCO. The team played Saskatchewan in the first round of the playoffs, losing by six points in the first game and following it up with a loss in the game two to end the year.

Both the women’s volleyball and basketball teams set new standards for TRU.

Away from the hardwood, the golf team finished third in team standings in the PACWEST and Riley Balson won an individual silver medal for his play during the season.

October came and tragedy of the most unimaginable and probable nature occurred in an exhibition baseball game at Norbrock stadium. The heart and soul of the baseball team, Tyler Lowey, was struck in the eye after swinging at a high fastball. The ball smashed his right eye and he would go on to lose it. A glass eye was made for him and he was forced to leave school midway through the semester.

But Lowey didn’t let losing an eye stop him from making the most surprising comeback to return to class in the winter semester and not miss any games for the baseball team.

Because of his inspiring story, the Tyler Lowey Award for perseverance was created in his name and he was the first recipient. TRU will give out the year every year from now on to an athlete who struggled with adversity and overcame it. Hopefully, no TRU athlete will ever have to go through what happened to Lowey that day in October.

The men’s soccer team failed to reach the playoffs after finishing fourth in the Group B division with four wins, two ties and five losses.

Conor Doherty, however, finished in the top five in scoring in the PACWEST.

The men’s basketball team finished with a 6-12 record, a best since joining the CIS. They beat a tough UFV team and followed it up with a win in Calgary to start the year.

At the semester break, the team was 4-4, matching the previous year’s win total. However, the team won two of its last ten to miss the playoffs.

The team was led by forwards Justin King — who was also Canada West’s leading scorer — and Chas Kok. Both finished in the top-ten in rebounds. It was Kok’s last year and he will now look to help the program as an assistant coach. King will not be returning next year after deciding to return home to the United States.

For the men’s volleyball team, it was a season of disappointment after the team finished 3-17 and last in the Canada West. However, the future seems to favour the WolfPack, with the rise of hitter Brad Gunter, who was among the top ten in kills during the season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

Setter Colin Carson finished 11th in the Canada West in assists and will be an important piece of coach Pat Hennelly’s team next year with his experience.

November had TRU hosting the CCAA National Cross Country Championships and runners from around the country raced across a wet and cold course on McArthur Island.

In the women’s five km heat, TRU was represented by eight runners. In the eight km male heat they had 13. Faryn Brown and Obed Masege had the best times for a TRU runner in their respective categories.
The WolfPack badminton team said goodbye to one of TRU’s longest-serving coaches. Brad Pape retired after 27 years of coaching the badminton teams of TRU and UCC.

This year, Pape’s squad finished with three bronze medals at the PACWEST tournament hosted by TRU.

Kia Lidster won bronze in women’s singles, Marlee Mertens and Anica Arduini won bronze in women’s doubles and Joey Chu won bronze in men’s doubles.

Although it wasn’t enough for TRU to have a player represent the school at Nationals, the school served as a great host to the tournament. Once again, players from around the country came to the TCC for the CCAA National Badminton Tournament, which included a spectacular men’s doubles final that brought much attention to the sport.

WolfPack hockey also hosted the BCIHL Championships at Memorial Arena in March.

It was another successful year for the team. Headed by first year coach Don Schulz, the team went on to finish third in the league and were favourites to win it all with an experienced group of veterans including David Gore, Jassi Sangha, Andrew Fisher, Cody Lockwood and versatile defenceman Shane Oatway.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

The team lost a heartbreaker to its rivals from SFU in the semi-finals. The WolfPack were one of the few teams that beat SFU in the regular season but the team fell short after two straight years of reaching the finals.

The cheerleading team made a big step this year by representing TRU at the Sea to Sky Imitational Cheerleading Competition.

It was the first time the cheerleading team competed in a competition. The teams finished second in the open four division.

As for the baseball team, they are in the thick of their season at the moment.

The off-season had the team travel to California and Arizona for spring training. Since returning, the team has gone 8-8 through the first half of the schedule, with Dave Hole and Alex Condon leading the league in hits, RBIs and home runs. Rookie Erik Herbranson has found himself a regular spot in the starting line-up and Denver Wynn continues to be one of the most feared pitches in the CCBC.

The comeback kid Tyler Lowey has been used in a variety of positions around the field as a relief pitcher, left fielder and second baseman. The baseball team will host the CCBC Championships in May at Norbrock Stadium.