The Lakeland College Rustlers Men's and Mixed curling teams travelled to Olds on February 22 to compete in the ACAC Curling Championships. Being the team that had to travel the furthest to attend, it was a very early morning for the Rustlers as they made their way south to attend the Opening Ceremonies and jump right into action with 2 games on Friday. After a hard fought round robin, both teams found themselves in the 3 vs 4 games for the Page Playoffs on Saturday night.
The Men beat Red Deer 8-3 to advance to the Semi-Final, while the Mixed pulled out some magic of their own to win a last-shot nailbiter 7-5, also over Red Deer, and also to advance to the Semi-Final. The Semi-Finals on Saturday night were two tightly contested games, however the Men would eventually fall to Concordia to put them in the Bronze medal game. The Mixed had to reach deep against an Augustana team that boasted 3 ACAC All-Conference Players and had soundly defeated the Rustlers 11-3 on Friday afternoon. Despite these challenges the Rustlers were able to sneak out a thrilling 8-6 last-shot victory vs Augustana to propel them to the Gold Medal game.
Sunday morning saw both Rustlers teams in action playing for medals. The Men, facing Red Deer for the 3rd time of the weekend, swept the weekend series and clinched both a Bronze medal and a spot at the CCAA National Championships in Fredricton, NB in March with a sound victory over the Kings.
The Mixed meanwhile played a very tight game vs NAIT for 6 ends but saw the breaks go against them in the 7th and ultimately fell to the Ooks, bringing home the Silver medal. Other than NAIT, who had three medals, Lakeland was the only team to bring home two medals from the ACAC Championships.
Both teams fought through adversity this year and represented Lakeland very well. The Mixed in particular faced numerous challenges, losing 3 of the 4 members of their team throughout the year. Skip Layne Carlson began the year as a spare and finished as the Silver medal winning ACAC Mixed Skip, while veteran lead Jennalyn Alkestrup was thrust into the 3rd role and handled the promotion brilliantly. Siblings Triton and Morgan Nott were able to play together as front end for the Mixed and did a fantastic job in their first year of ACAC competition.
The Men's team consisting of Carter Babij, Dale Mizera, Connor English and Jared Mason gelled well from the very beginning of the year and only got better as the season went on. They would not be denied their chance to medal at the Championships and their perseverance paid off with a Bronze medal and a spot at the National Championships.