Muskie ‘birders’ chasing OFSAA berths

Lucas Punkari

A chance to represent Fort High at the all-Ontario badminton championships is on the line today in Thunder Bay for four Muskies.
The boys’ doubles team of Bryson Skirten and Andre Emond, along with the mixed doubles tandem of Tori Sikora and Connor Bujold, are vying for gold at the NWOSSAA playoffs—at a ticket to OFSAA on May 3-5 in St. Thomas.
Skirten and Emond, who are both in Grade 12, were a dominating force at the NorWOSSA playoffs in Dryden last Wednesday, rolling to a perfect 5-0 record to finish in first place.
“We made it to NWOSSAA so that was really good,” Skirten smiled.
“I thought we did okay, but it was kind of rough at times as we could of made some better shots out there,” Emond admitted.
“We just weren’t getting to the bird at times, and that’s something we have been working on here this week in practice,” he added.
Senior Muskie badminton head coach Manami Alexander was in Dryden to watch her players perform and found the pair got better as the day wore on.
“They started off a little bit slow, and I had to coach them between the games to make sure that their feet were still moving instead of trying to move everything with their arms,” she recalled.
“We also keyed on trying to find an opponent’s weak points instead of doing the same things over and over.
“And it helps that the two of them have been playing together for a long time, as it really showed out there,” Alexander added.
Having finished second place at the NWOSSAA playoffs in 2010, Skirten and Emond are looking to finish one spot higher and qualify for this year’s OFSAA tournament.
“It would be great to make it there, but our goal is to just try our best and have fun while we are playing,” Emond said.
Meanwhile, Bujold and Sikora, in their first year together as a team, sported a 3-2 record at the NorWOSSA playoffs to finish in a tie for second with Kenora’s Andrew Marks and Theresa Sawkins.
But the black-and-gold duo claimed the second NWOSSAA berth as a result of winning their head-to-head match.
“I thought that we did really good in the qualifiers,” said Sikora, who is in Grade 11.
“It’s pretty exciting to be heading to NWOSSAA for the first time, and I’m glad that I get to experience it with Connor as it’s great to have a partner who can help me through things,” she reasoned.
“I might be a little nervous going there for the first time, but I think that can also be a good thing,” noted Bujold, who is just in Grade 9.
“We’re just going to go out there and try our hardest while we are there, no matter how we finish up,” he vowed.
Also competing at the NorWOSSA playoffs last Wednesday in Dryden were the Muskie mixed doubles team of Lewis Linklater and Micaela Jack and singles competitor Sam Stahn, who finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
“Lewis and Micaela played well and if the tournament had been held another day, they might have been heading off to the [NWOSSAA] finals this week,” Alexander noted.
“Sam had been playing doubles prior to this year, and she’s done a great job in learning the singles strategy,” Alexander added.
“But the other girls that were there [in Dryden] had more experience with that side of the game.”