By Greg Price
St. Mary’s School continues to thrive in its badminton program as three medals were brought back from provincials in Red Deer this past weekend to go along with a 2A zone banner.
The medals were in three different categories in bronze senior boys singles (Landon French), gold intermediate girls doubles (Leila Pacleb and Cherilene Payongayong) and bronze senior girls doubles (Christine Agravante and Rae-Anne Vayro).
There is a preliminary pool in every category and if you are in the top two you go in the ‘A’ pool, if you are in the bottom two in your original pool, you re-pool into the B’ pool.
Each St. Mary’s representative ended up in the ‘B’ pool as competitors compete against each other at badminton provincials, regardless of student population.
“This is Landon’s first year playing singles. He played with Tyson Phillips last year and captured bronze in doubles. He has really transformed his game to adjust to singles play,” said Randy Spenrath, who helped coach high school St. Mary’s badminton alongside Ronaldo Payongayong. “He had great bird control and he was making some nice shots keeping his opponents off balance which led to his success.”
Leila Pacleb and Cherilene Payongayong were dominating all badminton season long and provincials were no different.
“They had not lost a tournament all year. They won Brooks, they won Chinook and they won districts and zones,” said Spenrath. “They have had an amazing season and Chinook and Brooks were not easy tournaments. It’s nice for them to get all this experience to see where they need to get to the next level.”
Agravante was playing up a level to the senior level even though she is intermediate and formed instant chemistry with Vayro on their way to bronze.
“This is the first year they have played doubles together. They have had other doubles partners before. The strategy is so different in doubles compared to singles. You have a lot more strategy to consider in doubles where two people have to be on the same wavelength,” said Spenrath.
“Rae-Anne and Christine are very receptive to coaching and it has really helped them progress as a new, young team.”
St. Mary’s continues to have a strong badminton program which is first nurtured at the junior high level that sees participation levels that rival schools much larger than the rural school.
“It is in our phys ed classes and we have teachers that are really promoting the participation. It starts at the classroom level and then we have some amazing volunteers in the last number of years who have established our badminton program and it flows right through to high school,” said Spenrath. “And the kids love the game.”