Over the years, Kimiko Kamstra has steadily climbed the ranks of being one of the best judokas in B.C. and Canada.
The 18-year-old who calls the Hart Judo Academy home recently returned to Prince George with a pair of silver medals from the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. She won individual silver in the minus 44-kilogram female division and helped her B.C. female squad win the silver medal in the team competition.
Kamstra had quite the successful year in 2018, standing on the podium in five of six tournaments she entered.
At the 2018 Canadian Judo Open Championships, she won gold in the U-21 women's division and silver in the U-18 girls minus 44kg division.
At the 2018 Pacific International tournament, she won bronze in the U-18 girls minus 48kg class. She earned another bronze at the 2018 Canada West Open in the U-21 women's minus 48kg category.
At the 2018 Toronto Open, Kamstra claimed bronze in the U-21 minus 48kg division and she also took bronze at the Saskatchewan Open in the U-18 minus 48kg division.
At the 2018 Pan American Championship, Kamstra finished fifth in the U-18 minus 44kg division and seventh in the U-21 minus 44kg category.
From the time she was 11 years old, Natasha Kozlowski had wanted to win the Ladies Simon Fraser Open golf tournament. One day before her 17th birthday, she accomplished her goal.
Kozlowski swung to the 2018 Ladies Simon title in comeback fashion in August. At the conclusion of the first round, she trailed defending champion Lindsay MacDermott by four strokes. By the end of the second and final round, Kozlowski had herself a seven-shot victory over the Kamloops-based professional. At the par-72 Prince George Golf and Curling Club, Kozlowski posted scores of 74 and 73.
The Simon victory was the highlight of Kozlowski’s 2018 season but it wasn’t her only taste of success. She also finished first at a Maple Leaf Junior Tour event at Vernon’s Predator Ridge in July and, prior to that, battled to a 31st-place showing at the B.C. women’s amateur championship in Golden. As well, she was 24th at the junior provincials in Kimberley, which earned her a spot in junior nationals in Tsawwassen. There, at the Beach Grove Golf Club, she missed the cut.Some of Kozlowski’s other notable achievements include low-net championships at the 2013, 2014 and 2017 Ladies Simon, a novice division B.C. championship in 2014 and a Maple Leaf Junior Tour victory at The Dunes in Kamloops in 2016.
Anna MacDonald has soared to new heights in recent years.
At the 2017 national trampoline championships, MacDonald, 17 at the time, bounced to individual silver and team gold. She was also part of a four-member Team B.C. contingent that tied for first place with a visiting squad from Australia.
It was her second time qualifying for nationals. In 2016, the Prince George Gymnastics Club member earned a fourth-place finish in the double-mini event.
At a provincial meet in Kelowna in May 2017, she jumped to gold in trampoline and silver in the double-mini event.
Eric Orlowsky’s long-track speed skating career is moving in fast forward.
In February, Orlowsky was a member of Team B.C. at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. At the Games, as one of four B.C. male long-trackers, he posted a top placing of 10th in the mass start sprint race. As well, he was 11th in the 5,000-metre event, 14th in the 500m, 15th in the 1,500m and 16th in the 1,000m.Orlowsky competes regularly on the Canada Cup national series and made great strides during the 2017-18 season. The product of the Prince George Blizzard speed skating club was chosen as B.C. Speed Skating’s male long-track skater of the year after a season in which he etched his name in the national rankings in multiple disciplines. He was 22nd in the 5,000m and 10,000m distances, 38th in the 1,500m, 39th in the 500m and 48th in the 1,000m. As part of his year, Orlowsky skated in the Canadian junior long-track championships for the second time in his career.
When Derian Potskin has a bat in his hands, opposition outfielders usually head for the fence.
Whether it’s in baseball or fastball, Potskin packs a wallop at the plate. As a first-year member of the PG Surg-Med Knights all-star baseball team in 2018, he added his power to a lineup that won double-A provincial and Western Canadian championships. In the Western Canadian final against the Portage la Prairie Pirates, Potskin pounded a two-run home run in what became a 10-0 victory in five innings. Altogether, he hit six homers in about six weeks of tournament play with the Knights.
Also in 2018, Potskin was named to baseball’s Under-16 edition of Team B.C. The year before that, in fastball, he represented his province in the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto.
Ainslee Rushton is quick with her lacrosse glove and stick.
Rushton, a goaltender, backstopped Team B.C. to the gold medal at the 2018 female national bantam championship. In the final, in Halifax in July, B.C. beat Alberta 5-3.
Leading up the final, B.C. compiled a 4-2 record. Rushton was named most outstanding goalie in the tournament. She played four of the seven games, posted a 3.25 goals-against average with one shutout and an .894 save percentage.
At the 2017 national championship, she helped guide B.C. to a silver medal.
Locally, Rushton suits up for the Posse club team.
Matthew Shand is a force on the court.
Shand, a Grade 12 volleyball player at College Heights Secondary School, is among the most feared power hitters in B.C. During the 2018 season, he was named a first-team all-star at the double-A provincial championship tournament, an event in which he led his squad to a fourth-place finish.
Shand’s dominance at the net – not only offensively but also defensively – made him a standout player at every event the Cougars attended. At one of their most prestigious tournaments, the Best of the West gathering in Kelowna in October, he was part of a silver-medal performance and was named a first-team all-star.
In the summer leading into his Grade 12 year, Shand was a member of B.C.’s Under-18 select team. As he nears high school graduation, he is being pursued by multiple college and university teams for next season.
At the age of 11, Zenze Stanley–Jones tried her hand at wrestling for the first time.
It was the right decision.
Today, Stanley–Jones can proudly say she’s a national champion. And, she’s a consistent threat for podium finishes.
In 2017, Stanley-Jones grappled her way to a pair of gold medals at the Canadian championships. She won gold in the cadet (age 14-16) 90-kilogram freestyle and juvenile 90kg Greco Roman categories. At the 2017 Western Canadian Age Class Championships, she earned the bronze medal in the 90kg class.
At the 2018 nationals, Stanley-Jones followed up with a bronze medal in the U19 freestyle category.
The Kelly Road Secondary School athlete claimed the silver medal in the 90kg category at the 2018 B.C. high school championships in Port Alberni. In 2017, she finished fifth in the same category at the championships.
Jordan Vertue lives and loves life in the fast lane.
The Prince George Barracudas swimmer rewrote the record books in the 11- and 12-year-old category at the club’s home meet in November 2018. She set new standards in the 200-metre backstroke, 50m back, 200m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 200m fly.
Later, at the 2018 B.C. Summer Games in Cowichan Valley, Vertue racked up seven medals in the pool. She won gold in the 200m individual medley, 400m IM, 200m backstroke and 800m freestyle, silver in the 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke and bronze in the 200m butterfly.
At the 2017 B.C. short course triple-A championships in Victoria as a 10-year-old, Vertue grabbed four gold and four silver medals and set eight club records.
In 2016 she was ranked as the No. 1 swimmer in the country in her age group.