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Freeman wins bronze at U21 nationals

Jace Freeman rink wins bronze medals at 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Curling Championships
Bronze winners of the U21 nationals, the Freeman rink: (l-r) Jace Freeman, Ryan Ostrowsky, Nick Senff, Luke Robins, and Graham Freeman.

Virden’s Jace Freeman and his rink needed to find spots in their luggage for some shiny objects on their way home from the 2024 New Holland Canadian Under-21 Curling Championships in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo.

Skipped by the son of Graham and Roxanne Freeman, the Manitoba 2 rink captured the bronze medals on March 30. It defeated Saskatchewan 2, 7-5, in an extra end. Graham Freeman coaches the rink. It also included third Ryan Ostrowsky, lead Luke Robins, and second Nick Senff, who is the son of Kimberley Senff and former Virden resident Danny Senff.

“It felt absolutely amazing to win the bronze medal,” Jace Freeman sad. “To finish third out of the top 18 Junior teams in Canada is just such an amazing feeling. This is my first time reaching the podium at nationals, so it felt so good to break through because I had been so close many times.”

In the bronze medal match, Saskatchewan 2 tied things up at 5-5 in the 10th end. The Freeman rink persevered and scored two in the 11th.

“We had outplayed our opposition throughout the bronze medal game,” the skip said. “We just had one really bad end where we gave up a big steal, but we had the hammer playing the extra end and we played well and left him a hard final shot without last rock and he ended up missing it.”

The Freeman rink finished third in Pool B with a 6-2 record. In the playoffs, Freeman got past Manitoba 1 (McDonald), 6-5. It fell 7-5 to Alberta 1 in the semifinals before winning bronze. Coach Graham Freeman said it is “always nice to win your last game of the year.

“I think the team succeeded at the nationals due to all of the hard work they put in,” the coach said. “They played a ton of games this season and practiced hard during weeknights and when we had a rare open weekend.”

It was a very successful season for the rink. It won seven competitive bonspiels between junior and men’s events. The Freeman rink compiled a 41-14 record in junior competition and, including men’s play, was 59-28. Jace Freeman and his teammates competed in approximately 120 games each during the season if you also include such action as local men’s league games, Westman Superleague of Curling and mixed doubles provincials, Coach Freeman noted.

Jace Freeman was obviously a big part of his rink’s successful season. During the campaign, Senff, the team’s second, said:

“Jace never seems scared to take on the big shot in a tight situation. And he makes the big shot often.”

The Freeman rink wrapped up the season at the U21 nationals. The players had the opportunity to see the impressive Suncor Community Leisure Centre, Jace Freeman noted, but mostly the rink was focused on a busy but enjoyable curling schedule.

“I really enjoyed catching up with old friends from other provinces and making new friends as well,” Jace Freeman said. “They had a great players lounge in the hotel, and it was lots of fun interacting with other teams in there after our games.”

Hayward Makes Quarterfinals

Shaela Hayward skipped her Carman rink to the quarterfinals on the women’s side of junior nationals. Hayward is the daughter of the rink’s coach Diane Hayward and former Virden resident Darcy Hayward.

The rink made it to the quarterfinals thanks to a 5-3 record. Two of its losses were by one. In the quarterfinals, the rink conceded 9-3 to Alberta 2.

Previously the rink won the U18 provincials and the U18 national championship.


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