The King’s Blue Devils lost to the Northern Albert Institute of Techology Ooks in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national men’s doubles badminton finals on Mar. 9.
Despite the tough loss, the duo of Benn Van Ryn and Bryce Mason made history — their silver medals were the first-ever national medal in the Blue Devils’ 52 years.
“It was crazy, just because it’s my last year, even in my first two years, we haven’t made the nationals and then going from that to a weaker performance last year, to a guaranteed medal, it was amazing,” said Van Ryn.
The championship took place at Dalhousie University’s agricultural campus, in Truro.
Van Ryn and Mason won their match against Humber College in the semi finals in three sets. After losing their first set 17-21, they were able to pull off the next two with a score of 21-16 and 22-20.
While Humber College was the top team in the tournament, the Blue Devils duo pulled off a win that changed King’s history.
“Once they made it to the finals, it was clear that they were coming out of the tournament with a medal, we just didn’t know what color it was going to be,” said Neil Hooper, King’s’ athletic director.
Following the Humber game, Mason and Van Ryn fell to the Ooks in the finals, losing in three sets. They lost the first set 21-19, but were able to get back in the match after winning the second set 17-21. They lost the third in a battle, 21-19.
Mason is in his second year with the Blue Devils and Van Ryn is in his fourth year. They both played at the national stage last year.
“Last year, we fell short in a three-way tie, so to come back this year, put it all on the line and win means a lot,” said Mason.
“For me, it meant a lot because I would always get close, but never get to a medal spot so when I knew I won a medal I let it all out, literally, I fell to the floor.”
The entire badminton team had a long journey. They won their second conference championship in a row on Feb. 16 at Mount Allison University.
The conference title, however, does not qualify players to go to the national stage. They first have to play qualifiers that would send them to nationals.
Each player has a chance to participate in one event. The duo of Mason and Van Ryn won Men’s Doubles in the qualifiers.
They both said their focus is their main strength.
“When we focus, we play fantastic. If we weren’t focused it hurts us,” Mason said. “But when we were focused, we know we can beat any team.”
Following their semi-finals match, King’s President Bill Lahey and the rest of the badminton team drove up to Truro to support Mason and Van Ryn.
“When they really said, it was history changing for our school, that’s when I really felt it,” said Mason. “The president comes out and support sports all the time.”
Mason added that players who didn’t participate at nationals were in the crowd supporting them.
Winning the silver at nationals is Van Ryn’s biggest accomplishment as a Blue Devil. Hooper had affirming words to say about him.
“One of Benn’s best attributes is that he never gets rattled,” said Hooper. “He never gets outside of himself, he has the confidence, has the ability to play and he is a great teammate, and when you are a great teammate, especially in the doubles, it only helps you win.”
While Van Ryn’s Blue Devils career has come to an end, Mason will try to compete in the men’s singles category in the 2019-20 season.