Turns out there are more Ontario Winter Games medals to celebrate from a local perspective (and I have to admit, I'm not all that surprised).
Not only did Northern Ontario teams sweep both the gold and silver medals of the mixed bowling events in Orillia, but locals athletes were front and center in the accomplishment. The teams initially guaranteed themselves a medal after securing the top two placements following round robin play.
Northern Ontario #1, a squad comprised of Scott Burns (Plaza Bowl - Sudbury), Liam Smith (North Bay), Kyle Beaulieu (Whitewater Lanes - Azilda), Isabelle Rodrigue (Garson Bowl) and Felicity Eckensviller (Haileybury), secured the number one seeding, accumulating 51 points.
The squad benefitted from a healthy balance of talent right across the roster, with the three male bowlers separated by less than four points in average pin fall (Smith - 223.7, Beaulieu - 222.1, Burns - 219.8), with their female counterparts close on their heels (Eckensviller - 213.0, Rodrigue - 187.7).
Northern Ontario #2 - Ashley Baccari (Thunder Bay), Paige Hadley (Thunder Bay), Joseph Phillips (Whitewater Lanes - Azilda), Mattias McKinnon (Thunder Bay) and Cory Depatie (Whitewater Lanes - Azilda) - slid into second place at 48.5, edging out Ontario Durham with 45 points.
Baccari (224.1) and Hadley (213.2) formed an impressive one-two punch on the girls side of things, with Depatie (220.1), McKinnon (191.9) and Phillips (175.9) all providing key contributions over the course of the weekend. In terms of individual games, the highlight was certainly a 306 thrown in game eight by Ashley Baccari.
Semi-final action would see Northern Ontario #2 upend Ontario Durham 7-1, with Cory Depatie (267), Paige Hadley (265) and Baccari (233) among those leading the way.
In the final, Northern Ontario #1 maintained their supremacy, taking down their regional counterparts behind solid games from Kyle Beaulieu (261) and Felicity Eckensviller (231), with Joseph Phillips doing his best to keep NO #2 in the race, recording a score of 247.
Coaches for the teams included Philip Smith (NONT #1) and Natasha Tremblay (NONT #2), with a handful of these bowlers off to Ottawa later this month, site of the Youth Challenge National Championships.