Shawnigan’s Michael Mehl and Ryan Picken display their hardware after meeting in the national U19 final. (Submitted)

Shawnigan’s Michael Mehl and Ryan Picken display their hardware after meeting in the national U19 final. (Submitted)

Shawnigan athletes finish 1-2 at national squash championships

Michael Mehl beats Ryan Picken in latest chapter of long-running rivalry

Michael Mehl won his third consecutive national under-19 title at the Canadian Junior Squash Championships in West Vancouver last month, but he had to beat a Shawnigan Lake School teammate to do it.

Mehl and Ryan Picken were placed on opposite sides of the boys under-19 draw, and they both advanced to the final without losing a single game.

The rivals have faced each other on multiple occasions over the years, with Mehl winning every meeting. Just last September, Mehl and Picken played an epic five-game showdown in the final of the 2016 Shawnigan Junior Open in September.

When they squared off once again at the Hollyburn Club, Mehl continued his winning streak against Picken, taking the national championship in four games (11-2, 11-4, 11-13, 11-4).

“I would say the depth of the field was equally challenging this year,” said the three-time Canadian champ. “But having the support of my Shawnigan teammates definitely made my tournament easier.”

Shawnigan squash coach Mike Johnson was thrilled to see two players from his program in the national final.

“For both Ryan Picken and Michael Mehl to reach the final of the Canadian junior finals in the U19 category is a testament to their focus and hard work on and off court,” Johnson says. “In the final, Michael had to bring out his A game, which he most certainly did. He played at a hard and fast pace, his shots were accurate and he made no mistakes.”

Along with his silver medal, Picken was presented the Alexander Doucas Memorial Award, which goes to the junior player best exemplifying the spirit of fair play, sportsmanship and commitment to excellence. The award is voted on by the players, coaches, organizers and referees from the championship.

Cowichan Valley Citizen

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