Two track stars and one of Nelson’s oldest clubs had performances to remember in 2019.
Madelyn Bonikowsky, Matti Erickson and the Nelson Rhythm Ropers are the Star’s athletes of the year after putting Nelson in the national sports spotlight.
Bonikowsky, who competes for the L.V. Rogers track team as well as the Kootenay Chaos, had a breakthrough the B.C. High School Cross Country Championships in November when she finished ahead of over 200 competitors to win the senior girls five-kilometre race.
Her victory made her the first Kootenay athlete to step onto the girls’ podium at the event since record keeping began in 1970.
But she wasn’t done there.
One month later Bonikowsky took gold at the Canadian Cross-Country Championships in the under-18 girls four-km race. Ninety-seven of Canada’s top high school runners took part in the event, but the race belonged to Bonikowsky.
Meanwhile, her track teammate built on an already incredible resume.
Erickson, who was also the Star’s athlete of the year in 2018 and named LVR’s top male athlete in June, extended his domination of the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships in June when he won gold in both the 800 and 1,500-metre races.
His victory in the 1,500 was his third in three years, and his time of three minutes 57.31 seconds bettered his own provincial record by four seconds.
Two months later Erickson became a national champion for the first time by winning first place in the under-18 men’s 800 and 1,500 races at the Canadian Legion Youth Track and Field championships.
Those performances led to Erickson being named Nelson’s first sports ambassador by the city.
Finally, the Nelson Rhythm Ropers surprised at the national rope skipping championships in May.
The team’s 15-to-17 age female squad of Maya Pierson, Nadine Lehr, Kaylyn Allingham and Angelia Thomson finished first overall for the Rhythm Ropers in the 15-to-17 age female squad.
Nelson also took the Grand Champion Award for double dutch pairs freestyle, and had several athletes on the podium.
The Rhythm Ropers were formed in 1987 and began skipping competitively in 1998. Winning at nationals served as a reminder that the club is a key part of the city’s thriving athletic community.