Junior women win B.C. jackets

Nanaimo curling skip Kesa Van Osch prepares to slide out of the hack during Christensen Collision Cash League action earlier this season. Van Osch is B.C.’s provincial junior champion. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo curling skip Kesa Van Osch prepares to slide out of the hack during Christensen Collision Cash League action earlier this season. Van Osch is B.C.’s provincial junior champion.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo now has to share the Van Osch sisters with the rest of the province. That’s because the city’s junior women’s curlers are now Team B.C., after winning the provincial championship in Victoria on New Year’s Eve.

"Awesome. Excited," said skip Kesa Van Osch, asked how it felt.

Her team put in the work, she said, put in the time, and showed dedication and drive to win.

Kesa Van Osch, Kalia Van Osch, Marika Van Osch and Brooklyn Leitch won their final 8-4 against Falon Burkitt of Prince George. The game was tied 4-4 through seven ends, but the Van Osch rink counted a pair in the eighth end and two more in the ninth to punch their ticket to nationals. Overall, the team went 6-1 at provincials at the Victoria Curling Club.

The Van Osch team began with an 8-6 win on Dec. 27 against the Corryn Brown rink. Starting off with a win was huge, especially for the younger Van Osch sisters who have played some big games against Brown in the past.

"They've played her quite frequently and they've lost every single time, so it was a huge mental win for them," said Kesa.

The next day began with a 9-6 victory over Burkitt before the Nanaimo girls lost 5-4 to New Westminster’s Dezaray Hawes. A third draw that day was a chance to bounce back, however, and the Van Osch team did just that in a 14-2 washout of Williams Lake’s Michelle Ball. Kesa said that day was a turning point.

"We came out 3-1. It really felt like we could do it, from there."

Thursday began with a tight 7-6 win over Alyssa Kyllo of Vernon, followed by a convincing 9-3 win over the capable Stephanie Prinse rink of Chilliwack. That victory clinched first place.

"We were comfortable with the ice, comfortable with how we were playing and we were just getting on a roll," said Kesa.

On Friday, the Van Osch team wrapped up the round robin with a 7-1 victory over Richmond’s Brittany McAulay and awaited another finalist, who turned out to be Burkitt.

As the final reached the last few ends, still tied, the Van Osch rink decided it couldn't settle for playing the hit game and keeping the sheet open – it was time to put some rocks in play.

"We started to play our way and pushed the issue and it ended up working out in our favour quite well," Kesa said.

After stealing two in the ninth end to go up 8-4, all they had to do was run Burkitt's rink out of rocks in the final end. Kalia's double peel did just that, and the Nanaimo girls were champions. They shook hands with the opposition, hugged one another, and set about enjoying their victory.

The Van Osch rink is the first Nanaimo Curling Centre team to win B.C. jackets in a decade – the last was Jessie Whittam’s masters women’s team in 2002.

The M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships will be held this year in Napanee, Ont., from Feb. 4-12.

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