Joining the best high school rugby players in the province, 17 Lake City secondary rugby players suited up recently at the Provincial Regional Championships held in the Lower Mainland.
Tasha Johnson, Emma Pfleiderer, Laura Pfleiderer, Skye Forcier, Carleigh Walters, Emma Feldinger and Ayme Desmond joined the Thompson Okanagan under-18 girls team, while Grade 11s Noah Ryll, Jordan Murphy, Vince Austin, Parker Kennedy and Orrin Watkinson played on the U18 Thompson Okanagan boys side.
Nick Warnock and Jesse Wallace-Webb, both Grade 12s, played for the Vancouver Island Crimson Tide at the tournament.
On the U16 girls squad Carrie Lange, Kaitlyn Berkelaar, Madison Blusson, Desmond and Feldinger all represented the Thompson Okanagan.
For the U18 girls the tournament — held at the University of British Columbia July 4-5 — saw them defeat Vancouver North, West and East, 24-0 to win the bronze medal.
Coach Morley Wilson of Williams Lake, who sat at the helm alongside Kamloops’ Andy Vankuyk, said the team — made up of players from Alexis Creek to Penticton — gelled quickly and played a great tournament.
“Our girls (from Williams Lake) were top notch — leaders on that team,” Wilson said.
The U18 girls opened the tournament with a 21-3 loss to the Tsunami (North Island), then edged Vancouver South 14-10, before falling to the eventual gold medalists, Fraser Valley, 24-5 to reach the bronze-medal match.
Wilson pointed to Laura (team captain), Emma, Johnson, Walters and Feldinger as all having exceptional tournaments.
“These girls are highly respected in the rugby community,” Wilson said.
“They’re on scouts’ radars and there’s a future for them there if they want to put in the work.”
The U16 girls, meanwhile, finished the tournament — held at Burnaby Lake June 27-28 — in sixth place after losing to Vancouver North, West and East, 20-15 in a competitive tilt in their final game.
Williams Lake’s Jason Ryll, who helped coach the U18 Thompson Okanagan boys team, said the team faced some stiff competition but took away loads of experience.
The U18 boys fell to the Tsunami, Vancouver South, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island Rugby Union to place eighth.
“Our best game was against Fraser Valley,” Ryll said.
“They should’ve beat us and they did but we really pulled together … our defence was exceptional. That was the game we really gelled.”
At the tournament both Murphy and Austin were identified as players to watch by the Vancouver Rowers premier division club, Ryll said.
“It was a good experience for all our boys,” Ryll said.
“It was good to get the boys back playing and we’re looking ahead to next year.”
On the national level, to date, Johnson and Anna Bracewell have been announced as selections for Team BC to play at this summers under-20 national championships.
Selections for the under-16 and under-18 provincial teams will be announced in the coming weeks.
Next May is also a big year for high school rugby in Williams Lake as Lake City Secondary School will host the 2016 Provincial Rugby Championships in May.
“We’re looking for a big season coming up,” Wilson said.
In 2015, LCSS finished with bronze medals at both the 15-a-side and seven-a-side provincials.
“We’re hoping the community will come out and support us.”