Three-peat in sight

JIM BENDER, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 1:46 PM ET

Now that she has earned her way back to the Manitoba championship, her supporters can start the chant:

"Three-peat, three-peat."

St. Vital's reigning champion Calleen Neufeld defeated Assiniboine Memorial's Michelle Montford 11-4 in the junior women's city zone playdowns at the Charleswood Curling Club last night to assure that she will be able to defend her crown.

"The first step is done, that's for sure," said Neufeld, 20. "That feels good."

The next step would be to become the first junior woman in 30 year to skip a squad to three straight titles when her foursome hits the ice for the Target Junior Women's Provincial Championship in Virden, Jan. 4-8. The last to turn the trick was Patti Vande (now Wuthrich)) back in 1975-77. Before her, Chris Pidzarko (now Scalena) did it 1972-74.

"It would be exciting but I don't think repeat, we just want to win," said the top-seeded Neufeld, still supported by third Sabrina Neufeld, 18 (no relation to Calleen but whose dad, Randy, recently earned a Safeway Select spot) and second Laryssa Grenkow, also 18.

Breanna Meakin, 16, replaced Lindsay Edie (graduated) at lead.

"It's pretty exciting for her," said Calleen. "She's so cute and so excited. She's like my little sister."

Meakin had skipped a squad in last year's provincials.

"This year's been good and I'm really looking forward to (the provincials)," she said. "We're hoping for the best."

Joining them in Virden will be Wildewood's Heather Pierson, who downed clubmate Lisa Deriviere 11-4.

"This is our last junior year as a team together so this was one of our goals," said Pierson, 20.

Her foursome of third Chelsea McTavish, 20, second Jennifer Blundon, 18, and Jaclyn Hiebert, 19, has stayed together for seven years -- an eternity in any women's curling -- and is making its fourth trip to the provincials.

"To win is always one of our goals," said Pierson, who finished 5-2 at the last two juniors (but out of the playoffs last year).

Two more teams will be determined today.

In the junior men's city zone playdowns, Michael Johnson of Deer Lodge eliminated West Kildonan's reigning champion Travis Bale 9-4 in a B final. Bale can still qualify through the Junior Christmas Bonspiel. In other games of note, Pembina's third-seeded Kyle Peters bounced Assiniboine Memorial's Braiden Watling 7-2 and West Kildonan's Jesse McCullough finally stopped Wildewood's surprising Tim Armour 10-9.

SCOTT SEEDS: Neufeld and Pierson may be "mortal enemies" should they face each other on the Virden pebble but the two have reunited to compete in next weekend's Scotties Tournament of Hearts city zone playdowns.

"We can't really look at it like that (junior) enemies," said Neufeld. "We're really good friends and we both want to win."

Neufeld had such a good showing in last year's zones that she has been seeded No. 8 this go-round. St. Vital's Jennifer Jones is No. 1, with Fort Rouge's reigning champion Janet Harvey second. Rounding out the top five are: Barb Spencer (Fort Rouge), Karen Porritt (Valour Road) and Darcy Robertson (Fort Rouge).


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