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St. Mary student wins zone silver

Angel Lizano first SMS athlete to compete at badminton provincials in 30-plus years
St. Mary School Grade 10 student Angel Lizano scored a silver medal at the North Central Zone Badminton Championships held April 23 at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton.

WESTLOCK – For the first time in a generation, a St. Mary School (SMS) badminton player has earned a silver medal at zones and competed at the provincial championships.

At the North Central Zone Badminton Championships held April 23 at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton, SMS Grade 10er Angel Lizano was at the top of her game and went undefeated in the intermediate girls category with three, two-set wins, up until her final match versus a competitor from Barrhead, which she dropped 19-21, 16-21.

The second-place finish qualified the teen for the 2023 Alberta Schools' Athletic Association Badminton Provincials held May 5-6 in Lloydminster — Lizano was the only Westlock-area student to qualify for provincials in 2023.

And while she failed to make the provincial podium and faced some “very skilled opponents”, it was a fun, eye-opening experience and one she looks forward to repeating over the remainder of her high school career. Of note, badminton is one of the high school sports that does not separate athletes based on the size of the school they attend, meaning she faced competitors from city schools who train year-round in the sport.

“My teacher told me that it’s been 33 years since someone from the school has won a medal at zones and went to provincials, so I’m pretty proud,” she said. “I didn’t do a lot of training beforehand … I tried my best during the first set of the final, but I could feel that I was cramping up by the second.”

Lizano, who headed to provincials Thursday following a full day of school, said she first started playing badminton when she was 12 and loves it. And while she wasn’t able to net any wins at the two-day event — her best result was a 19-21, 17-21 loss in her last match of the weekend — she thanked all the school staff for their support but specifically singled out teacher Annika Robinson, who travelled with her to provincials, along with her coach Eli Burtnick, who’s also a teacher at SMS, for providing her with “advice and motivation.”

“And I want to thank my teammates, who did their best during zones, and they were very supportive, and I really appreciate them for being there for me. And I’m very thankful to my family as well, as I was expecting a different reaction, but they were very supportive,” she said May 6. “It was really fun, and I enjoyed the experience throughout all of the games.”

George Blais,

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