Manitoba well-represented

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:03 AM ET

BRANDON -- You can call her Cal, or you can call her Calleen.

Starting today, you can also call her "champ."

Cal Neufeld's La Salle rink scored four in the ninth end last night at the Brandon Curling Club and went on to beat Souris's Kaileigh Strath 7-5 in the final of the Manitoba junior women's curling championship.

Neufeld, along with Sabrina Neufeld (no relation), Laryssa Grenkow and Lindsay Edie, will wear the Buffalo Feb. 5-13 at the national championship in Fredericton.

"Yes! It sounds good," a beaming Cal Neufeld said. "I'm excited. We're all excited!"

Manitoba will be well-represented at nationals. Cal Neufeld, 19, grew up in Winkler but now lives in Winnipeg, Sabrina Neufeld and Grenkow -- both only 16 -- are from La Salle, and Edie, 19, hails from Dugald.

The heart-breaking loss spoiled Strath's perfect run through the five-day event. The 17-year-old was 7-0 in the round-robin, and she beat Neufeld 6-4 in the 1-1 page playoff game yesterday morning to advance directly to the final.

Neufeld had to face the No. 1 seed -- Kaitlyn Lawes of Winnipeg's Pembina club -- in the semifinal, but she cruised to a 7-1 triumph to get a rematch with Strath.

The BCC was packed to the rafters with pro-Strath supporters from Souris, which is 50 km southwest of Brandon. They were happy for most of the match, as Strath led 5-3 after eight.

Then came the fateful ninth.

Strath's squad, which includes Chailey Butler, Michelle Kruk and Karyn Robertson, didn't miss a lot of shots in the frame, but they weren't perfect, either, and that allowed Neufeld to hit and stick for four.

She then ran her opponent out of rocks in the 10th.

Strath, who has also lost the provincial high school final twice and the Manitoba 16-and-under final once, couldn't stop crying during her post-game interviews, but she faced the music and answered every question.

"I'm looking forward to a bright future in curling, because I know we probably have one," said Strath, whose entire squad has three years of junior eligibility remaining. "If we can curl this good and as good as Cal's team did, we'll do well in all the years to come.

"... I just want Cal to bring home (a national championship) now."

There will be no rest for Neufeld. This morning, she will return to her job as a records management technician at Great-West Life in Winnipeg.

"I'll go back and ask for more time off," she said.


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