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HIGH ACHIEVERS WEEKEND WRAP: Ottawa diver Kate Miller wins world junior synchro title, narrowly misses platform podium

By Martin Cleary

Kate Miller is a fast learner, extremely fast.

The Nepean-Ottawa Diving Club athlete had never competed with another diver in synchronized springboard diving until last weekend, when she made her debut at the world junior diving championships in Montreal.

Miller and Quebec City’s Sonya Palkhivala practised their five dives, which had a full range of degrees of difficulty, only three times before the three-metre synchro springboard final, but emerged as world champions. There were 14 teams in the final.

The inexperienced team put together five solid dives to earn an unbeatable 272.97 points for the gold medal. Great Britain’s Desharne Bent-Ashmeil and Amy Rollinson were second at 270.30 points, while Australia’s Lucy Dovison and Olivia Roche placed third at 254.37 points.

“I thought it would be a fun event, like a bonding experience,” Miller said as she didn’t know much about Palkhivala before last week and hadn’t competed with her in the past. “We’re both very good divers and we really bonded well. I don’t know her that well.

“It was nerve-wracking, but sharing this with someone helped. It makes you feel less nervous.”

Miller, 17, also came within less than a point of winning a second medal at the world junior championships.

Competing at the Montreal Olympic Park Sports Centre, Miller missed the bronze medal in the women’s A (16-18 years old) platform by three-quarters of a point.

Miller, who trains at the Toronto Diving Academy, finished the competition – eight preliminary dives (four from the 7.5-metre tower and four from the 10-metre tower) and four final 10-metre dives – with 403.00 points.

Ottawa’s Kate Miller was a synchro champion and fourth-place individual finisher at the world junior diving championships in Montreal. Photo: Diving Canada

Sofia Knight of Australia narrowly surpassed Miller for the bronze medal at 403.75 points. Andrea Spendolini Sirieix of Great Britain was the gold medallist with 460.15 points, while the silver medal went to Canadian national junior team member Renee Batalla of Victoria with 427.90 points.

Miller, a member of Canada’s national senior team at 17, lifted herself into medal contention after the preliminary round, which featured 24 divers. She placed third with 393.50 points, while Batalla was first at 435.05 points.

In October, Miller won the women’s platform competition at the Canadian junior world trials meet with a score of 419.50.

Read More: Too young for Tokyo Games, diver Kate Miller gains experience at Olympic trials

GEE-GEES MEN’S, WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAMS WIN TWO EACH

The U Sports national university men’s basketball rankings may undergo a big shakeup this week, after No. 1 Carleton University Ravens lost their second OUA regular-season game and the No. 4 University of Ottawa Gee-Gees continued their strong play with another two-win weekend.

Playing without Connor Vreeken because of an upper-body injury, the Ravens were outplayed by Brock University Badgers 80-68. The Badgers led 49-34 at halftime and increased their advantage to 19 points late in the third quarter. Carleton cut the lead to eight points on two occasions with 4:47 left and 2:34 remaining.

Marjok Okado led the Ravens with 15 points and five rebounds, while Elliot Bailey notched 14 points and seven rebounds. Aiden Warnholtz tossed in 12 points and added five rebounds and five assists. Wazir Latiff scored 10 points and also contributed five assists and five rebounds.

The Ravens, who sit in third place in the OUA East at 7-2 at the semester break, returned to the win column with a 99-71 decision over winless Algoma University Thunderbirds.

Latiff played a strong 32 minutes with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists. Okado added 18 points, six rebounds and three assists. Warnholtz chipped in 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes.

The Gee-Gees defeated Algoma 103-59 and Brock 82-70 to improve to 8-1 and share the East Division lead with Queen’s University Gaels.

Ottawa rolled past Algoma as rookie Jacques Melai-Guemeta came off the bench to score 26 points and add six rebounds and two assists. Kevin Otoo had a 20-point game, but also added five rebounds, four assists and three steals. The Gee-Gees’ starting five had 53 points and the bench players were strong contributors with 50 points.

Dragan Stajic came close to a triple-double effort as he excelled with 20 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for the Gee-Gees against Brock. Guillaume Pepin had 15 points and six rebounds, while Brock Newton was good for 12 points and three rebounds.

The No. 6 Gee-Gees women’s basketball team also had a double-victory weekend and improved its OUA East Division record to 9-0 for second place. Queen’s is first at 10-0. The Gee-Gees turned back Algoma 82-24 and Brock 60-49.

Savannah Provo led the Gee-Gees with 17 points, two rebounds and two steals against Algoma, while Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu recorded 14 points, nine rebounds and four steals and Emily Payne counted 13 points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes.

Lefebvre-Okankwu stepped up against Brock with 18 points, three assists and two rebounds. She was well supported by Oksana Gouchie-Provencher with 10 points, eight blocks, seven rebounds and two steals and Natsuki Szczokin with eight points, 12 rebounds and three assists.

The Carleton University Ravens women’s team also split its two weekend games, losing to Brock 73-65 before defeating Algoma 88-41. The Ravens are 7-2 at the schedule break for third place in the OUA East Division.

Brock owned a 21-10 lead after the first quarter, but the Ravens cut their deficit to two points after the second and third quarters. The Ravens tied the game 55-55 on a Dorcas Buisa jumper early in the fourth quarter, but the Badgers controlled the game the rest of the way.

Jacqueline Urban and Oceane Kounkou had matching 15-point efforts. Urban also added 18 rebounds and two steals.

In the game against Algoma, eight players scored eight or more points for the Ravens. Kounkou registered 11 points and four rebounds, while Urban and Kinly Rice had identical 10-point performances. Urban also was strong on the boards with nine rebounds, while Rice had four.

JAKE WEIDEMANN EARNS PAIR OF FOUR CONTINENTS MEDALS

Ottawa’s Jake Weidemann had a weekend to remember as international long-track speed skating returned to Quebec City with the Four Continents competition.

Weidemann, the brother of triple-Olympic medallist Isabelle, was the bronze medallist in the men’s 1,500 metres in 1:47.405. He had the fastest first-lap time of 23.8 and the second-best second lap time of 49.92. Teammate Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu of Montreal was first in 1:44.666.

The Canadian team of Weidemann, Gelinas-Beaulieu and Max Halyk placed second in the men’s team pursuit in 3:47.511, which left them 0.34 seconds behind the winning Korean team.

Gatineau’s Cedrick Brunet was ninth in the men’s 500 metres in 35.595.

OTTAWA CURLERS REACH WINNIPEG OPEN MIXED DOUBLES PLAYOFFS

Chiaki Matsumura and Yasumasa Tanida deflated the playoff hopes of two rinks with Ottawa curlers at the Winnipeg Open mixed doubles competition.

The Japanese team scored two points in the eighth and final end to defeat Ottawa’s Lisa Weagle and Toronto’s John Epping 5-4 in the quarterfinals. Weagle and Epping won their preliminary pool at 4-0.

In the round of 16, Matsumura and Tanida rallied from a 3-0 deficit after three ends to score all their points in the next five ends and eliminate Shannon Birchard of Winnipeg and former Ottawa curler John Morris 7-3.

At the Stu Sells Brantford Nissan Classic, Tori Zemmelink of Navan reached the semifinals, but lost to Korea’s Eun ji Gim 7-2.

Zemmelink defeated Kerry Galusha of Yellowknife 1-0 in the quarter finals, after finishing 2-1 in her preliminary pool.

DAVID SHTEYNGART FIFTH JUNIOR AT SKATE CANADA CHALLENGE

Competing in his first national junior competition, Gloucester Skating Club’s David Shteyngart placed fifth in men’s singles at the Skate Canada Challenge in Winnipeg.

After finishing third in the short program with 59.88 points, he was eighth in the freeskate final with 103.75 points and dropped to fifth overall at 163.63.

Ottawa-born Kaiya Ruiter of Calgary followed a similar pattern as she was sixth in senior women’s singles. Ruiter won the short program at 65.86 points, but her ninth-place showing in the freeskate program with 95.40 points left her sixth with 161.26 points.

Gloucester’s Reese Rose was 13th in women’s junior singles at 135.64 points, after placing 10th in the short program with 48.51 points and 13th in the freeskate final with 87.13 points.

BOGDAN DJERKOVIC HELPS PACIFIC TO NCAA WATER POLO SEMIS

Ottawa’s Bogdan Djerkovic’s quest for the NCAA men’s water polo championship ended in the semifinals.

After defeating No. 5 University of California-Davis 11-7 in the quarterfinals, the No. 6-ranked University of the Pacific Tigers lost 16-9 to the defending champion and host University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears.

Djerkovic produced two goals from six shots, two blocks, one steal and five drawn exclusions (opposition penalties). In the quarters, he counted two goals and earned six drawn exclusions.

AREA GOLFER KURTIS BARKLEY SECOND IN AUSTRALIA

Kurtis Barkley of the Cedar Glen Golf Course started the 2023 Golf for Disabled Tour with a bang, placing second in the Australian All-Abilities Championship during the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Barkley was the leader after the first two rounds, shooting 73-69 for a two-under par 142. But he struggled to a 79 on the third and final round for a five-over-par 221 total.

Great Britain’s Kipp Popert rallied from a three-shot deficit after 36 holes to win by seven strokes with scores of 71-74-69-214.

SILVER FOR LOCAL TRIO AT PARA HOCKEY CUP

The Canadian para hockey team took strides forward but experienced a familiar end result with a pair of defeats to Paralympic-champion USA and a silver medal performance at the Nov. 27-Dec. 3 Para Hockey Cup.

The Canadians scored one goal more in the 5-1 tournament final than they did at the Paralympics, when they fell 5-0 to the Americans in both their meetings. And they also took USA to overtime in a 3-2 preliminary round contest. It was USA’s seventh consecutive gold medal at the Para Hockey Cup.

Three Ottawa players competed for Canada at the event. Defender Rob Armstrong registered a goal and two assists, while forward Anton Jacobs-Webb had a pair of helpers in Canada’s five games, and assistant captain Tyrone Henry played the final four games after sitting out the opener.

Canada also beat Italy 8-0 and Czechia 5-0 and 7-0 in the four-team competition held in Nova Scotia.

PROVINCIAL TITLE FOR ORLEANS BOWLER

Jean-Sebastien Gorley of the host Orleans Bowling Centre won the Bantam Boys’ title at Ontario’s 2022 YBC Provincial Bowling Championships on Sunday.

Gorley started small but finished with a bang, scoring a 118 in his first game and then a 254 in his last. He rose from ninth place after the first round all the way to the top come the end of the fifth.

In between, there were scores of 199, 155 and 217 for a total of 943 and a convincing victory of 108 points over Peterborough bowler Brayden Brown Haines in second place.

Orleans’ Jordan Reid missed the podium by a single pin, scoring a total of 757 to place fourth behind Stratford’s Hayden Martin in third at 758.

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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