By Jasmine Franklin
Ponoka can cheer on two of their own who have qualified for the Alberta Winter Games in Lakeland.
Kelsey Raab, 14, qualified for the Games in wrestling along with Paul Mass, 16, who qualified for bowling.
“I’m really excited,” Raab said. “I’ve worked hard to get here.”
“I’m actually surprised,” Mass said. “During tryout I didn’t do the best but I worked at it, came back, and did what I had to do.”
Raab works hard to reach her goal
A “driven” girl is how mom, Brenda, describes her daughter.
“She’s on the wrestling team, volleyball team, continues to get straight As in the AP (advance placement) program at school, works for me and at the IGA,” Ms. Raab said. “Her dream is to go to nationals with wrestling and I think she could do it.”
Raab practices two to three times per week for wrestling alone, each practice ranging from one-to two-hour sessions.
“I’m the only girl on the (Ponoka Composite High School wrestling team)” she said. “It forces me to use more strength — the guys on the team are awesome.”
After qualifying in her weight division and zone, Raab will compete at the Alberta Winter Games Feb. 4 to 7 against other talented wrestlers.
Her hope is to wrestle in nationals in April, but she has to qualify at the Alberta Open tournament first.
“They team really works and helps each other out,” Ms. Raab said.
“I’m excited to meet different people and get a new experience,” Raab said.
Raab has won nine gold medals for wrestling, two of which were at the Junior Olympics.
Mass aims for first in bowling
In a family of competitive bowlers, Mass will be the third child of the family to make it to the Alberta Winter Games.
“He’s the top youth bowler in Ponoka right now,” said mom Darlene Mass. “He’s had some 300-point games, which is really hard to do.”
“My family introduced me to the sport,” Mass said. “It’s calming and fun.”
Mass began five-pin bowling when he was around four years old after spending a lot of time in the bowling alley watching his sisters and parents play.
“He’s my hat-trick,” Ms. Mass said. “He bowls against adults which really has pushed him to be what he is today.”
To qualify for the Alberta Winter Games Mass had to pull off a 300-point game. Competitors had to bowl eight games and the total pin falls were taken — the top two in the zone were chosen for the games.
Mass will team up with another teen from Wetaskiwin where the two will take part in 14 five-pin bowling games over a two-day span.
“The goal is to come in first,” Mass said. “But also not to let down my partner.”
Mass juggles bowling and curling but says he tries to get as much practice as possible in at his bowling stomping grounds here in Ponoka.
“I’m going to watch everyone’s bowling styles,” he said. “Focus on the mark, and just throw the ball.”
For more information on the Games visit www.albertagames.com