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Sports archive for December 20, 2013

Junior men’s curling title up for grabs

This weekend will mark the beginning of a new era for junior men’s curling in the Yukon.

By Marcel Vander Wier on December 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

NEW ERA – Team Wallingham third Spencer Wallace throws a rock during a cash spiel at the Whitehorse Curling Club last month, while lead Trygg Jensen, left, and second Brayden Klassen man the brooms. The team is one of two vying for the junior title (top). Star photo by VINCE FEDOROFF CRAZY EIGHT? – Longtime junior women’s skip Sarah Koltun will be gunning for her eighth straight Yukon junior title this weekend at the Whitehorse Curling Club. Star photo by MARCEL VANDER WIER

This weekend will mark the beginning of a new era for junior men’s curling in the Yukon.

With long-time teammates Thomas Scoffin, Mitch Young and Will Mahoney out of the picture, the junior men’s title is officially up for grabs for the first time in seven years.

Junior skippers Joe Wallingham and Chris Nerysoo understand the opportunity at stake, and the two will do battle in a best-of-three format this weekend for a chance to represent the territory at the junior nationals in Liverpool, N.S. next month.

Wallingham,17, has experience on his side, and after beating Nerysoo twice in local league play this year, is the pre-championship favourite.

Wallingham and third Spencer Wallace enjoyed a taste of nationals last year, forming the front end for Mahoney and Young’s rink, which finished 2-4 and out of the playoffs.

This year, Wallingham will take the reins as skip, with newcomers Trygg Jensen and Brayden Klassen playing lead and second, respectively.

“Our whole goal is to get to nationals and figure it out from there,” Wallingham told the Star. “It’s kind of different being the leaders this time around. I definitely feel the pressure ... but I kind of like it.”

Team Wallingham has also curled in two out-of-territory bonspiels this season, which has helped prepare the team for these types of moments.

The young skip knows whichever team wins this weekend’s championship, they will have big curling shoes to fill in the absence of Scoffin, Mahoney and Young from the Yukon roster.

“I’ve seen what Thomas Scoffin has done,” Wallingham said. “I’ve been kind of looking up to him and want to follow in his footsteps.”

Nerysoo, 15, is back to challenge for the junior title, alongside third Bailey Muir-Cressman, second Karn Seaman and lead Will Klassen (Brayden’s brother).

“There’s a big difference from last year to this year,” Nerysoo said of Team Wallingham. “They have all the pressure.

They won last year, but they’ve lost a lot of experience. That’s how we see it.

“If we keep the games close and don’t give up big ends, we’ll have a chance.”

On the women’s side, Team Koltun will attempt to win its eighth straight junior women’s title.

However, Sarah Koltun’s rink will be in for a stiff challenge against Bailey Horte. Last year, Team Horte beat Team Koltun 15-3 in the first game of the best-of-three playdowns in Teslin, before succumbing to the older rink.

Horte, 17, is joined by third Kelsey Meger, second Kelly Mahoney and lead Sian Malloy.

This year will mark the first time in seven years that Koltun will play without longtime third Chelsea Duncan, who has graduated from junior play.

Team Koltun’s junior roster consists of Jenna Duncan (lead), Patty Wallingham (second), Andrea Sinclair (third) and Koltun, 20.

Koltun’s women’s rink is taking a run at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this year, and will join Nicole Baldwin’s rink at the Yukon/N.W.T. playdowns in Yellowknife Jan. 3 to 6.

This weekend’s junior championships will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., with the deciding game scheduled for Sunday at 9 a.m. if necessary.

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