by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Showing the diversity of talent on a year-to-year basis, one just needs to look to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Curling Championships the last few years.
During the last five years, the ACAC men's curling title has gone to: Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder, 2017-2018; University of Alberta Augustana Vikings, 2016-2017; NAIT Ooks, 2015-2016; Grant MacEwan University Griffins, 2014-2015 and Portage College Voyageurs from 2014-2015.
To make it six years-in-a-row for a different ACAC men's champion, the Olds College Broncos, Lakeland College Rustlers or Red Deer Kings would have to be at the top of their game as the 2018-2019 ACAC Curling Championships will be held February 22-24, 2019 at Olds Curling Club and hosted by the Olds College Broncos.
That leaves Red Deer Kings (7-5 regular season record) and Lakeland (5-7 regular season record) to try to dethrone defending champion Thunder (9-3 regular season record) or upset the unbeaten NAIT Ooks, who are 12-0 during the regular season.
"There are three good men's teams that will give NAIT a battle for sure," said Olds coach Colton Goller. "The competition at the ACAC level has increased every year and there seems to be better players coming up. Plus teams have their good games and their bad games...so it is possible for anyone to win."
Defending women's champion Red Deer Queens were third in regular season standings (7-5) and will battle the Griffins 11-1, Ooks, 8-4 and Vikings 5-7.
"It is an even field," said Goller. "It's kind of a toss-up."
Mixed curling defending champion Griffins did not have a mixed team this year, so the door is wide open for a new gold medal winner with Vikings (8-2), Ooks (7-3), Rustlers (7-3) and Queens (5-5) hitting the ice.
"Once again it is one of those fields where everybody is evenly ranked," said Goller. "It is who gets the handle on the ice fastest and is the most consistent."
A total of six schools will be competing: with only the NAIT Ooks and Red Deer Kings/Queens having the possibility, through qualification, of reaching the podium in all three divisions.
Last time Olds hosted the ACAC Curling Championships was in 2012-2013, where NAIT swept their way to golf in men's and women's while mixed went to University of Alberta Augustana.
"It's a little bit of a downer that we do not have any (Olds) teams competing," admits Goller. "But it gives us more free time to make sure things run smoothly as the host."