At 16 years old

At 16 years old

B.C. 8-ball championship attracts high calibre talent

Inside a banquet hall of the Lakeside Resort, the sounds of players talking, chalking their cues and the stones hitting each other could be heard during the 2011 B.C. 8 Ball Championship.

Inside a banquet hall of the Lakeside Resort, the sounds of players talking, chalking their cues and the stones hitting each other could be heard during the 2011 B.C. 8 Ball Championship.

Over 300 players competed in various divisions for a chance to go to nationals in Toronto. While most players blended as they wore matching golf shirts, the Big Dogz, however, stood out as they wore Calgary Flames jerseys.

“We don’t have team shirts, but we all had jerseys because we love the Flames,” said Kathy Bjorndalen, donning a Daymond Langkow jersey along with teammate Nick Palachuk. “Everyone is asking where we’re from because they think it’s funny.”

Bjorndalen arrived in Penticton at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. Things were going better for her and her teammates who wore (Jarome) Iginla, (Alex) Tanguay and (Miikka) Kiprusoff on the back of their jerseys.

Ryan Rhodes, the Iginla fan, said the group met while playing pool in Calgary. There were no nerves for Rhodes in this tournament as he has competed in the 8-ball World Championship in Las Vegas.

“I never get nervous,” he said with confidence. “If anything, I get nervous for my teammates. This is when I’m at my best.”

Asked to compare the B.C. 8-ball championship to Las Vegas, Rhodes said, “multiply it by 100 compared to Penticton.”

“You can crack under pressure,” said Rhodes.

Tournament organizer Subrina Monteith said the caliber of players at the event ranged from those who should be playing on T.V. to starters.

“That is why you have the different divisions,” she said. “You play with equal level so you are not completely squashed.”

One player who is known for having a good stick is 14-year-old Darienne Drake of Campbell River. She was playing with her mother and two others. Drake began playing when her parents encouraged her to give it a shot.

“I like how competitive it is and how much competition is in it,” said Drake, who didn’t appear intimidated by her older competition. I like the skill level.”

Drake, who plays twice a week in her hometown, played in the championship last year and enjoys it because of the experienced players she faces. On Friday night, she won the mini tournament.

While visitors were making their mark during the championship, the locals sunk their way to success. Nick Kruger took top spot in both the 8 and 9-ball singles event and Kruger’s team Cue’s Diamond’s finished in third-place in the 8-ball event. Kruger also finished second with Maryann McConnell of Port Alberni in the A Division Scotch Doubles event.

Stix ‘n’ Stones (Rick Kotowich, Dan Moran, Bill Mitchell, Glen Prochneau, and Stuart Trimble) finished first in the B Division of 8-ball teams, while Char Wold and John Burling finished second in the B Division of ladies and men’s 8-Ball singles and Ron Danis finished second in the 9-ball singles. John Bannon and Jen Hagblom of Penticton took fist in the B Division Scotch Doubles.

Gord Monteith, who helps his wife with organizing, said things were great with the championship on Saturday.

“We have a good field of competitors,” said Monteith, who enjoyed some success in the Scotch Doubles with his wife.

The tournament overall was a great success said Subrina with many locals winning awards and people from all over Western Canada playing with nothing but rave reviews about the venue and local community,” she added. “Over the last four years this tournament has really put Penticton on the map as a cue sport hotspot in B.C. With the success of this event we plan for this tournament to be here in Penticton for the foreseeable future.”