He’s the power in the paint for the UNBC Northern Timberwolves.
Dennis Stark, a forward for the UNBC men’s basketball team, is one of the top college-level players in B.C. and Canada. In 2008-09, he was picked as an all-star at the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association provincial championship tournament, an event in which the Timberwolves placed third. Later, at nationals in Prince George, Stark played a large role in a fourth-place result for UNBC. For his contributions, he was once again selected as an all-star.
This past season, the six-foot-four Stark continued to shine. His offensive and defensive contributions helped the Timberwolves hold the No. 2 ranking in Canada for much of the year.
Before he joined the UNBC program, Stark did his damage for the Kelly Road Roadrunners. In his Grade 12 year, he led Kelly Road to its best-ever showing at the triple-A provincial championship tournament. In the 20-team event, the Roadrunners finished ninth.
Marinka Van Hage strapped on her snowshoes and found international gold in Idaho.
At the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games, Van Hage won two gold medals in her sport. First, she outpaced all her rivals in the 800-metre race and crossed the finish line in a time of seven minutes one second – about 20 seconds faster than anyone else. Van Hage, 17 at the time, used a strong kick to move from fourth to first in the last 100m. The next day, Van Hage was back in her snowshoes for a 1,600m race. In that one, she clocked in at 14:27 and left her nearest opponent 26 seconds behind.
Van Hage was making her second appearance at a Special Olympics World Games. In 2007, she competed in 10-pin bowling at the summer version of the event.
On the basketball court, Mercedes Van Koughnett is driving her way to stardom.
This past season in the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association, Van Koughnett was a rookie guard for the UNBC Northern Timberwolves. She was also a starter, rare indeed for a first-year player. Van Koughnett was so versatile, she filled point guard and shooting guard spots with equal effectiveness.
“She can play anything,” said Christine Kennedy, one of her UNBC teammates. “Her fire, her passion for the game, transfers to everybody. Honestly, I never think of her as being a rookie.”
Despite her youth, Van Koughnett established herself as one of the league’s top playmakers. She averaged close to three assists per game.
Van Koughnett is a graduate of Duchess Park secondary school. There, she started playing on the senior team in Grade 9. When she was in Grade 10, she was picked as an all-star at the double-A provincial championship tournament.
Within her age group, Alix Wells goes from top to bottom as quickly as anyone in Canada.
In the 2008-09 season, her first in the K2 division (13- and 14-year-olds), Wells zipped to a national bronze medal in slalom. Prior to nationals, she claimed silver in giant slalom at provincials. Wells ended the year as the No. 2-ranked skier in B.C.
This past season, as a second-year K2 athlete, Wells was ranked No. 1 in B.C. and was considered to be in the top three in the country.
“She has amazing touch on the snow and has a very good mental approach,” said Mike Stratton, head coach of the Prince George Alpine Ski Racers. “She sees the terrain and the hill very well.”
Wells gained extra notoriety in late January when she ran the final leg of the Olympic torch relay in Prince George and lit the cauldron.
Jordan Foot is one of Canada's elite young volleyball players.
At the Under-18 national championship tournament last summer in Gatineau, Que., Foot was chosen as an all-star after he led Team B.C. to a bronze medal. A six-foot-six middle blocker and outside hitter, he now plays for Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
Foot is a product of the D.P. Todd high school program and the Prince George Youth Volleyball Club.
In his hockey career, Brad Morrison has already tasted national and international success.
In the winter of 2012, Morrison skated for Team B.C. at the Under-16 Western Canada Challenge Cup in Calgary and brought home a gold medal. More recently, he was a member of Team Pacific at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Nova Scotia and helped his club win silver.
Morrison, a forward, is in his rookie season with the Prince George Cougars.
Keiran Leboe is a pure power performer.
Leboe, who trains with the Prince George Track and Field Club, made Team B.C. for the 2013 Legion youth national championships in Langley and finished an impressive fifth in hammer throw. Earlier that summer, at provincials, he was golden in hammer throw and earned bronze medals in discus, javelin and shot put. Leboe capped his season when he was handed an athlete-of-the-year award by B.C. Athletics.
Spencer Schouwenburg may be young, but he has already achieved perfection in his sport.
In December of 2013, the 15-year-old member of the Silvertip Archers scored a 300. From a distance of 18 metres, he stuck 30 consecutive arrows in the centre ring of his target. Schouwenburg became the youngest shooter in Silvertip history – and just the eighth overall – to accomplish the flawless feat. In the compound class, he is a B.C. and Canadian record-holder in his age group.
Justin Hampole did something no Prince George figure skater had done in a decade – he qualified for a national championship.
Hampole was part of Team B.C. for the Skate Canada Challenge, held in Regina in December of 2013. The fact he got to nationals was even more impressive because, at the qualifying event, he was a 12-year-old competing in an Under-16 division.
Hampole trains at the Northern B.C. Centre for Skating.
From his spot at point guard, basketball player Montell Lindgren guided Team B.C. to a bronze medal at the Under-17 men's nationals.
At the tournament, held in the summer of 2012 in Sherbrooke, Que., B.C. edged Quebec 74-73 for bronze. Lindgren had 13 points, three assists and two steals in the game. During the tournament, he averaged nine points and four assists per outing.
Lindgren, a graduate of Duchess Park secondary school, was also chosen to play in the 2013 B.C. high school all-star game.