Ballenas Whalers girls curling team, (L to R) Amanda Litton, Mik Morrill, Teya Vega, Zoe Torgerson advance to the provincials in Maple Ridge. — Patrick Litton photo

Whalers girls rock with rare eight-ender

Ballenas quartet heading to high school curling provincials in Maple Ridge

Amanda Litton has been on the Island-champion Ballenas Whalers curling team for five consecutive years.

It’s an impressive record for the Whalers skip, who will lead the Whalers team of Michaela Morrill, Teya Vega and Zoe Torgerson at the BC High School Curling Championships at the Golde Ears Winter Club in Maple Ridge, Feb. 28 to March 2.

This will also be Litton’s fifth trip to the provincials.

“Every year that I’ve gone I’ve seen some new faces and I’ve seen people that I’ve met before in the past catch up with some people you don’t see too often,” said Litton. “I’m super excited.”

However, this will be Litton’s final trip to the provincial with the Ballenas team.

She graduates in June and is a bit melancholy.

Morrill said with Litton and Vega graduating this year, they want their last provincial appearance to be a special one.

“We want them to go out with a bang,” said Morrill, who added that the Whalers have never finished lower than fifth. The highest was fourth place.

“We’re hoping to win it or finish in the top three,” said Litton.

“That’s the main thing.”

Vega, who took a year off from the team last year, is also happy to be going back to the provincials for a fourth time.

“It’s pretty cool to do this again,” said Vega. “I know there will be new faces and new competition so it’s going to be super exciting.”

En route to winning the Vancouver Island Zone Championships and securing a provincial berth, the Whalers achieved a rare occurrence in curling, an eight-ender, at the Island Zone Playdowns that was held in Victoria last month.

An eight-ender is when a team manages to count all eight of their curling rocks during a single end with their rivals not scoring any. They did that against Claremont Spartans to earn the trip to Maple Ridge.

“I can’t get over it,” said Morrill. “What’s got to be the real specific is the strategy. You’ve got to have done something right if the other teams chooses to not hit yours out in the face eight. You need a little bit of luck, too.”

Litton added that in her seven years of curling, “I have never seen one of those. I have seen pictures of it but it almost never happens.”

For Morrill, who is in Grade 10, this is also going to be her fourth provincial trip while it will be Togerson’s first.

“It’s a bit never-wracking honestly,” said Togerson, who now plays lead for the team. Although being the new addition to the Whalers team, the Grade 9 curler has been in the sport for quite some time.

The Whalers team has a combined 20 years of playing experience.

Morrill said Torgerson’s performance at the playdowns surprised everyone. They all felt that she played steady and looked like a seasoned curler.

“She was amazing and was at 96 per cent at the playdowns,” said Morrill. “Every single shot was almost flawless.”

Litton recalled saying “oh my God, how? I was surprised too.”

Morrill said it was Torgerson that set up the Whaler’s eight-ender.

“A great lead is irreplaceable,” said Morrill. “And she really played well.”

The Whalers girls have been practising regularly leading up to the provincials. They can’t wait compete in Maple Ridge.

“We have good throwers, good strategy and good communication,” said Morrill. “We are ready. I am feeling very confident this year because there’s no weak spot, no weak link.”

Meanwhile, the Ballenas Whalers boys team of Connor Litton (skip), David Downey (third), Cole Pletz (second) and Christian Klein-Beekman (lead), also competed at the Island playdowns in Victoria. They suffered a major setback when Connor was injured. The team has to make significant adjustments to their roles on the ice and struggled. They played some close games and lost to the Kwalikum Kondors, who ended up winning a spot in the provincials.

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