FORT FRANCES—The going is about to get a lot tougher for the Muskie curling program.
After a pair of dominating performances at the NorWOSSA playoffs late last month in Kenora, Fort High’s boys’ and girls’ rinks both are set to compete at the NWOSSAA showdown beginning Monday at the Fort William Curling Club in Thunder Bay.
Muskie boys’ skip David Kaun, along with third Mike Badiuk, second Travis Showalter, and lead Sean Murray, enters the two-day competition as the top-ranked NorWOSSA rink.
Kaun’s rink blitzed the competition in Kenora—cruising to a 5-0 record and first place.
But while he’s confident heading into NWOSSAA, Kaun knows any success his team enjoys will not come easily.
“We kind of walked through NorWOSSA,” he admitted. “We played our game and we all played excellently. [But] I’m guessing NWOSSAA is going to be a lot harder because the Thunder Bay teams are always strong and now we’re playing on their ice.
“We just have to keep to our game and play our game.”
Kaun’s rink is no stranger to high-level competition, having qualified for the Northern Ontario junior playdowns in Sault Ste. Marie back in January.
Kaun acted as vice-skip to veteran curler Adam Bolen at the provincial championship—something he believes was an invaluable experience.
“It was really good playing in that because the teams in that were a lot harder,” he remarked.
“Skipping with Adam was great because he knows the game a lot better than I do and I picked up a few things from him,” Kaun added.
With a some big-game experience under his belt, Kaun has high expectations heading into NWOSSAA.
“We’re aiming for OFSAA,” he enthused. “This is my last year, so I want to get there.”
Joining Kaun at the NWOSSAA playdowns will be Jenna Enge’s Muskie girls’ rink.
Enge—along with third Megan Moate and lead Kathleen Murray—rallied with four-consecutive wins after an opening draw loss to finish second at the NorWOSSA championships in Kenora.
The Muskie rink were forced to curl short-handed because second Tirzah Keffer was sidelined with a bout of pneumonia.
And Enge’s rink once again will be forced to compete as a trio, as opposed to their usual foursome, at NWOSSAA next week because Murray is only in Grade 8 and therefore ineligible to compete.
“OFSAA is definitely a goal but we’ll see where the chips fall, I guess,” Enge said.
“Since we can only play with three, I’m just going there expecting to do our best,” she added. “I don’t know if we can win anything with only three people.”
But while Enge will not have a full team on the ice, she will have a great deal of experience upon which to draw.
In addition to qualifying for the Northern Ontario junior curling playdowns back in January, Enge was a member of the Muskie girls’ rinks that enjoyed great success at NWOSSAA the past two years.
“For the past couple of years, we’ve finished second place,” she noted.
“This team is very young, the other teams were very experienced, but given what we’ve accomplished this year, I think we can pull it off.”
Also competing at NWOSSAA this year is Mitch Seguin’s rink from Rainy River High School.
Seguin—along with third Kyle Miller, second Jared McQuaker, and lead Matt Johnson—finished in second place behind Kaun in Kenora to capture the other NWOSSAA berth up for grabs.