Sports reporter Ben Lypka has been on the sidelines for every major sporting event in Abbotsford over the past 12 months. Here are his top four stories in local sports for 2017.
HADWIN BREAKS THROUGH
The past year has seen Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin emerge as a force to be reckoned with in the professional golfing world.
The Ledgeview Golf and Country Club product stepped onto the world stage in the sport, competing in several notable events and posting strong results.
He kicked off the year on a high note when he joined the elite “59 club” at the PGA’s CareerBuilder Challenge on Jan. 21. Hadwin collected a staggering 13 birdies to become just the eighth player in PGA Tour history to shoot below 60. He’s the only Canadian to ever do it.
He scored his first-ever PGA Tour win at the Valspar Championship on March 11, and that win qualified him to compete for the Masters in April.
Hadwin set a strong pace early in the four-day event in Florida, shooting a 68 in round one on day one, an impressive 64 on day two, a 67 on day three and a 71 on day four. He earned a cool $1.134 million for the Valspar win.
He followed Valspar up with a sixth-place showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 19.
He also competed at both the U.S. Open in June and was named to the International team at the President’s Cup in September.
Oh, and he also managed to get married and purchase a new home. It was definitely a year to remember for Hadwin.
HANSEN WINS GOLD
The Rick Hansen Hurricanes senior boys basketball team made history at the 3A provincial championships in March.
One year after winning the school’s first-ever provincial medal (bronze) in 2016, the Hurricanes took down the South Kamloops Titans in the title game to earn gold.
Led by the dynamic Josh Dhillon, the Hurricanes staged a late comeback and dominated in the fourth quarter to pick up the 69-63 win. Dhillon, who scored 30 points and grabbed six rebounds in the title game, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
The Abbotsford Panthers senior girls basketball team also had a memorable run at the 3A provincials, advancing all the way to the gold-medal game but falling 67-57 to the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers on March 4.
With stars like Sienna and Marin Lenz, Sydney Fetterly and Kelsey Roufosse all coming back for this season, the Panthers are early favourites to again challenge for a provincial title.
FAREWELL TO A LEGEND
Arguably the greatest women’s basketball player to ever don the white and green for the UFV Cascades hit the court for the final time in 2017.
W.J. Mouat grad Kayli Sartori finished her stellar USPORTS career on Feb. 25, when the Saskatchewan Huskies eliminated the Cascades in three games in the quarter-finals of the Canada West playoffs. Earlier in February she helped the Cascades eliminate the Calgary Dinos in round one of the playoffs.
After stepping away from basketball in 2014, she returned a year later and put the Cascades on her back from 2015 to 2017. She averaged 18.4 points per game in her return season and earned both Basketball BC’s female university athlete of the year, as well as UFV’s female athlete of the year.
Her final season saw her average 16.4 points per game and seven rebounds.
Sartori led the Mouat Hawks to a provincial title in 2011, winning the tournament’s most valuable player at that event.
Her skills are now being appreciated on the international stage, after she signed a professional contract with the Al Riyadi basketball club in Beirut.
RUGBY FEVER GROWS
The sport of rugby continued to thrive in Abbotsford in 2017, with high school teams excelling, players receiving national recognition and big events coming to the local pitches.
The Abbotsford Panthers senior girls rugby triumphed at the AA provincial final in front of local fans at Rotary Stadium on May 27.
The Panthers beat Lake City 41-10 in the final, and were led by superstar Tausani Levale, who later in the year suited up for Canada in Dubai at the World Rugby Sevens Series event.
The Yale Lions senior boys team also had a strong season, finishing with a silver medal at provincials on June 3. The Lions fell 31-13 to North Vancouver’s Carson Graham Eagles in the title game at Rotary Stadium.
The Bateman Timberwolves junior boys team picked up a provincial silver, dropping the title game 36-13 to Shawnigan Lake at Rotary Stadium on June 2.
Abbotsford rugby talent also played a big part in Canada’s first-ever cup win at the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series, which occurred in Singapore in April.
Abbotsford Rugby Football Club members Jared and Justin Douglas, along with team manager Brian Hunter from Abbotsford, were key parts of the team to finally take home the cup.
Canada earned the cup win with a 26-19 win over the USA. Justin Douglas contributed with a big try in the team’s semifinal win over England.