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Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
Sudbury athletes shine at NAIG 2017
by Randy Pascal

It has been said that the North American Indigenous Games are equal parts culture and competition. Still, for the Sudbury contingent on hand, there was absolutely a sense of accomplishment that reverberated thanks to an impressive medal haul that was accumulated over the course of the week-long buzz of athleticism.

While records of this nature are not easily authenticated, Valley East Waves swimmer Isaac Callaghan might well be the most decorated male athlete in Games history. After returning from Regina with no less than eight medals in the pool back in 2014, Callaghan added another five to the mix last month in Toronto.

Individually, Callaghan earned silver in both the 19U Male 50m butterfly and 50m breastroke, and bronze in both the 50m and 100m backstroke, as well as the 50m freestyle. In addition, his experience at his second set of Games was highlighted by a meeting with the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

There was little doubt that the track was the focal point for local athletes, including 14 year old Emily Dodge. The former Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club representative garnered three gold medals and a silver, finishing first in the 1200m (4:13.10) and the 2 km cross country event (9:30.45), while placing second in the 800m in a time of 2:38.39.

Although Dodge narrowly edged out fellow Ontario Francesca Pheasant in the 1200m race (4:13.18 for Pheasant), the two would team with Victoria Trudeau and Jade Paquette to lay claim to top spot in the 4 X 400m relay, a half second ahead of Alberta.

Though Hannah Morningstar enjoyed the spotlight with a bronze medal performance in the 16U female javelin (24.17m), the 16 year old representative of Atikameksheng First Nation and St Charles College student was also an official #Team88 ambassador.

Referencing the 88th Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, Morningstar offers a vivid example of the possibilities that lie in utilizing sport as a platform for reconciliation through the development of indigenous athletes.

Lasalle junior Nicholas Burke emerged from his first appearance at the Indigenous Games with a four medal haul, featuring gold (high jump), silver (300m and 800m races) and bronze (4 X 400m relay).

On the water, St Benedict multi-sport diehard Dawson Nootchtai displayed his prowess in the kayak in a second set of Games, earning a total of four silver medals this time around. Racing in the 19U male bracket, Nootchtai placed second in the K1 200m, 1000m, 3000m and 6000m distances.

An accomplished hockey talent in her own right, Delaney Webkamigad teamed with Adrianne Kakekagumic to lead the way in the Mixed MC2 6000m doubles, and also partnered with Tyson Wemigwans and Jake Albert to race in both the 1000m and 3000m distances.

Honing his skills at the Northern Water Sports Centre in recent months, Mzhiikenh Toulouse rounded out the local canoe and kayak contingent, taking part in the final of the 14U Male MC1 3000m event.

A total of five golfers donned the Ontario colours at the game, the best finish of which came courtesy of 18 year old Conrad Naponse, a recent graduate of St Benedict Catholic Secondary School. The local product shot rounds of 77, 78 and 36 (rain shortened), finishing fourth with an overall score of 191, just one stroke back of both Brett Dearhouse (Quebec) and Cameron Riel (Manitoba). Play took place at the Humber Valley Golf Course.

A member of the Greater Sudbury Soccer Club Impact U21 women’s team that is coached by Vince Muscolino and Chris Simonato, Kiara Parry was part of the Ontario U19 girls team that posted a 1-2 mark in round robin play, before falling 5-0 to Nova Scotia in a battle for fifth and sixth place. Parry and her mates downed Wisconsin 6-1 in their opener, but lost to Eastern Door & The North (3-0) and British Columbia (3-1) before facing the Maritimers.

Meanwhile, there were few places where Sudbury athletes were more prominent than on the U19 Ontario boys soccer team, a squad that featured local siblings Kiel and Jacxsen Cress, along with Noah Carter and Tanner Kiroshameg. With coach Jim Cress at the helm, the Ontario team were blanked 3-0 by British Columbia in the prelims, evening their record with a 5-1 triumph over the Yukon.

Unfortunately, scoring was scarce in the playoff round, as Saskatchewan bested Ontario 2-0 in the semi-finals, with Manitoba claiming bronze thanks to a 3-0 win over coach Cress and company at McMaster University.

A product of some very talented volleyball teams as a member of the Lasalle Lancers, Cameron Alisappi and his Ontario teammates were beaten in four sets in the bronze medal affair, knocked off by Newfoundland and Labrador (18-25, 25-18, 13-25, 23-25). With nine teams competing in total, the Ontario lads posted a mark of 1-3 in their pool, faring slightly better at 2-2 in their cross-over games with Pool “B”.

While no official site of the 2020 North American Indigenous Games has yet to be announced, there are reports circulating of interest from the Mi’kmag delegation from Nova Scotia. Either way, Sudburians are sure to be on hand, quite likely front and center.

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