Ponoka had strong representation last weekend during the 2014 Alberta Summer Games in Airdrie with young athletes returning with gold, silver and bronze medals.
Swimmers had their moment in the spotlight bringing back nine medals; Mckenna-Macy Christensen proved herself a solid swimmer garnering one gold in the 400m individual medley, one silver in the 200m butterfly and three bronze medals in the 50m breaststroke, 200m backstroke and 4×50 medley relay.
Lanny Wildcat earned a silver in the 100m individual medley and bronze in the 400m individual medley. Much to her own surprise, Shannon Bendera also returned with two bronze medals from the 200m individual medley and the 22m breaststroke.
For Shannon the trip was worth it. “I wasn’t expecting to medal at all. I was just happy I made it,” she said.
Shannon feels swimming at this high level also gave her a chance to meet other young athletes.
“It helped me connect with other swimmers,” she said.
Shannon recognized Paisley Wilson, another Ponoka swimmer, for healing from a broken arm last year and performing well at the games.
“This was her first year trying out…I think that Paisley put in the real effort,” explained Shannon.
Two lacrosse players represented Zone 4 well by helping their team earn silver in the final match against the Calgary zone. The Zone 4 Tropics lost their gold medal game 11-5 against Calgary.
Ponoka resident Andrew Barnes represented Zone 4 as the goalie for the Tropics and he feels the competition gave him valuable experience. “I was sort of nervous. I was thrilled to be there, of course.”
It was not until after the first game that he gained some extra confidence and he found his team started to play well together. Barnes and Brennan Waldron, another teammate from Ponoka, will both head to California for the weekend of Aug. 1 to be part of the National Box Lacrosse Championships.
Waldron’s focus was on one thing: winning. Playing Calgary proved to be their strongest opponent. Many of Calgary’s players are rated as A players while the majority of Zone 4 players are B players. The first portion of the game proved a challenge.
“They were getting ahead of us,” said Waldron.
Despite the early lead, Zone 4 was able to narrow it down, but could not quite get ahead of the fast Calgary team.
This was triathlete Zoe McCormick’s second time at the summer games and her goal was to beat her previous standings. McCormick finished 10th out of 16 this year compared to her 16th place finish last time. “I just wanted to do my best…and push myself past my limits.”
She was one of the youngest racers in her category at 13-years-old and found herself racing against 14 and 15 year old triathletes. Each part of the triathlon proved a challenge for her.
During the second part of the race McCormick found herself cycling against strong wind and rain while running to the finish focused on getting through the pain of the race.
Representing Ponoka in soccer was Emma Bendera and Madison McLaren. The Zone 4 soccer team placed fifth overall and saw the tough competition they faced against the Edmonton and Calgary zones.
For Emma playing against stronger players showed her the level of soccer being played across the province.
“It shows that there are a lot of good players,” said Emma. “It shows that I can keep up with them.”
The next Alberta Winter Games are set for 2016 in Medicine Hat.
See more photos in this week’s paper.