It's all in their heads

KIRK PENTON, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

BRANDON -- Someone clear a path, because here comes Kaleigh Strath. Last night, the 17-year-old from Souris became the first skip to lead her team to top spot in her pool at the provincial junior women's curling championship at the Brandon Curling Club.

Strath improved to 6-0 and locked up first place with an 8-5 win over 2001 provincial champ Alli Nimik, who plays out of Winnipeg's Victoria club.

"It's awesome," Strath said. "We had goals of winning every game.

"We're so focused."

Strath, who curls with Chailey Butler, Michelle Kruk and Karyn Robertson, credits that focus to a three-hour session she and her team had with a Winnipeg sports psychologist earlier in the week.

"We've been working on a lot of mental things," Strath said. "When you get to this stage, everyone can make their shots. It's completely mental. Everything's in your head."

Strath will play in the 1-1 page playoff game tonight at 7:30.

"I couldn't want to go to New Brunswick (for nationals) more," said Strath, who finished fourth at provincials last year. "I am so ready for it."

SICK BAY: Someone from the Brandon Regional Health Authority showed up yesterday afternoon with fliers that describe the prevention, symptoms and treatment of a Norwalk-like Virus that is making its way around the Wheat City.

It appears that message came too late for Erin Mahoney.

The Brandon skip is one of three male and female curlers who have been knocked out of provincials by a nasty flu. Mahoney played the first two round-robin games and four ends of the third before finally giving in to the virus.

Mahoney was replaced by her third, Stacey Fordyce, who had never skipped in her life. The team is 2-2 since Fordyce took over -- including a 7-5 win yesterday over Nimik -- and it needs a victory today against Strath to qualify for the tie-breaker round.

"It had to be at provincials," Fordyce said. "But our team's stuck together. We still pulled off a few wins without her and we're trying our hardest to win for her."

BITERS: Mahoney, Nimik and the Granite's Heather Pierson are all 4-2 and tied for second behind Strath. Nimik plays Pierson at 8:30 this morning to finish off the round-robin, and if Mahoney falls to Strath, the Nimik-Pierson winner will play in the 2-2 game tonight ... In the other junior women's pool, La Salle's Cal Neufeld and Victoria's Chelsea Carey lead the way at 5-1, and they play each other today to determine top spot. No. 1 seed Kaitlyn Lawes, of Winnipeg's Pembina club, and Carman's Tracey McCrea are both 4-2 and must win their respective games today to get into a tie-breaker.


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