Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky

Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

In 2012, he was appointed night sports editor — editing copy, writing headlines, guiding reporters and helping produce the following day’s print edition.

He moved from the editing side to the reporting side in 2016.

The change is a switch back to reporting for Mike, who originally got into the journalism biz in 1985 in Brandon; he was the Sun‘s Wheat Kings beat reporter from 1988-1999.

Recent articles of Mike Sawatzky

Playoff positioning on the line

Mike Sawatzky 3 minute read Preview

Playoff positioning on the line

Mike Sawatzky 3 minute read Yesterday at 6:36 PM CST

The Canada West Universities Athletic Association men’s basketball regular season is heading into its final weekend with key playoff matchups and seedings unsettled.

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Yesterday at 6:36 PM CST

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

After splitting a series last weekend, the U of M Bisons and the U of W Wesmen will look to solidify their playoff positions against different foe this weekend.

Wesmen win without superstar

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Wesmen win without superstar

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

Kyanna Giles isn’t superhuman on the basketball court. It just looks like that sometimes.

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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

DAVID LARKINS / WESMEN ATHLETICS

University of Winnipeg Wesmen Tamiya Ness dribbles past a Manitoba Bison defender.

Wesmen women leave it till late

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Wesmen women leave it till late

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

For most teams, a 14-point deficit after three quarters would be a major problem to overcome.

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Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Wesmen guard Shawn Maranan defends against Bisons forward Simon Hildebrandt during Canada West university basketball action Friday at Investors Group Athletic Centre.

Naylor making her mark on national bowling scene

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Naylor making her mark on national bowling scene

Mike Sawatzky 3 minute read Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

Marissa Naylor, Manitoba’s top female bowler, has been busy raising her profile on the national scene.

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Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

Marissa Naylor, Manitoba’s top female bowler, has bee named to Canada’s 10-member national team.

Bisons-Wesmen weekend hoops showdown has national playoff implications

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Bisons-Wesmen weekend hoops showdown has national playoff implications

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

The Manitoba Bisons and the Winnipeg Wesmen have a storied rivalry when it comes to men’s basketball.

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Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

Wesmen player Shawn Maranan always looks forward to taking on the U of W’s crosstown rivals from the U of M.

Jones can win with anybody

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Jones can win with anybody

Mike Sawatzky 6 minute read Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

EAST ST. PAUL — Jennifer Jones and her crew of twentysomething rock stars completed an unbeaten run at the provincial women’s curling championship Sunday afternoon.

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Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Skip Jennifer Jones, second left, and her team, from left, Emily Zacharias, Mackenzie Zacharias (hidden) and Karlee Burgess celebrate defeating Team Ackland in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at East St. Paul Arena Sunday.

Jones shooting for ninth crown

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Jones shooting for ninth crown

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

St. Vital’s Jennifer Jones will be gunning for an unprecedented ninth provincial women’s curling title Sunday afternoon.

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Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jennifer Jones throws a rock at the Scotties Tournament on January 27, 2023, held at East St. Paul Arena. Reporter: Mike Sawatzky

McLeod exceeds Scotties expectations

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McLeod exceeds Scotties expectations

Mike Sawatzky 3 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

Lisa McLeod had modest expectations at the beginning of this week’s provincial women’s curling championship.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

Lisa McLeod’s team started the Scotties with three consecutive wins. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)

Jones still at top of her game

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Jones still at top of her game

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

She may be a living legend but there is nothing past tense about Jennifer Jones. Manitoba’s top curlers are still playing catch-up.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Jennifer Jones’ team is a perfect 6-0 heading into Saturday’s action at the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts in East St. Paul.

Decorated skip, new mom makes quick return to pebble

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Decorated skip, new mom makes quick return to pebble

Mike Sawatzky 6 minute read Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

Kaitlyn Lawes was just being herself Thursday morning.

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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kaitlyn Lawes throws a rock at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts women’s curling in East St. Paul on Thursday.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kaitlyn Lawes throws a rock at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts womenճ curling in East St. Paul on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. For Mike Sawatzky story. Winnipeg Free Press 2023.

Watling looks to build on 2022 success

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Watling looks to build on 2022 success

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

Kristy Watling took a bold step forward a year ago, advancing to the provincial women’s curling championship final before losing to Altona’s Mackenzie Zacharias in the title game.

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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

The Watling crew suffered a 12-8 loss to Portage la Prairie’s Lisa McLeod during the Wednesday afternoon draw. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Bisons crush Cougars

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Bisons crush Cougars

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Kirby Schepp may have assembled the most versatile collection of talent in his 14 seasons at the helm of the University of Manitoba Bisons men’s basketball program.

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Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Keivonte Watts of the Mount Royal University Cougars swats away a shot by Mason Kraus of the U of M Bisons Friday at IG Athletic Centre.

Kirk thrives on competition

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Kirk thrives on competition

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Goaltenders are supposed to crave being their team’s undisputed No. 1, right? Well, if you ask Raygan Kirk, a two- or three-goalie rotation can have an upside, too.

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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023

Ohio State Athletics

Ohio State goalie Raygan Kirk is among those being considered for NCAA goaltender of the year.

Pickering on top of the world

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Pickering on top of the world

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

Avery Pickering was still on top of the world Wednesday afternoon.

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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Balmoral Hall’s Avery Pickering wears her team Canada jersey and gold medal from the World Under-18 Women’s Hockey Championship while surrounded by her school teammates

Wednesday after practice at Hockey for all Centre.

Bisons grinding their way to the top

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Bisons grinding their way to the top

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

This is a story about a team of grinders who rarely, if ever, find playing the game to be a grind.

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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023

Neil Noonan/ Bisons sports

“I’m like a pest,” says guard Mason Kraus. “I just make it difficult… I feel like all of our guards do that well.”

Wesmen women dominate Cougars

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Wesmen women dominate Cougars

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

The No. 1-ranked Regina Cougars rarely lose a basketball game and when they do, it’s not supposed to look like a beatdown the Winnipeg Wesmen administered Friday night.

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Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Winnipeg Wesmen’s Julia Schatkowsky (8) was a force to be reckoned with Friday against the Regina Cougars.

Winnipeg receiver turning heads

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Winnipeg receiver turning heads

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

The label ‘generational player’ is thrown around much too casually these days.

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Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

High school football star Mekhi Tyrell has garnered attention from high-profile U.S. college programs and CFL teams.

Rose returns to action

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Rose returns to action

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

It was a gruesome sight.

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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

University of Winnipeg Wesmen’s Jaxon Rose returned to the practice court a week before Christmas and is now poised to make his Canada West season debut Friday and Saturday in Calgary.

Playoff atmosphere as Wesmen face Cougars

Mike Sawatzky 6 minute read Preview

Playoff atmosphere as Wesmen face Cougars

Mike Sawatzky 6 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

Every so often, there is a regular-season game that feels like a playoff game.

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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

David Larkins / Wesmen Athletics

Raizel Guinto leads Canada West with 3.2 steals per game.

War at home never far from thoughts of Ukrainian hockey team

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War at home never far from thoughts of Ukrainian hockey team

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

It was only an exhibition game, but it was an extraordinary night.

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Monday, Jan. 9, 2023

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Ukraine’s Mykhailo Simchuk celebrates his first-period goal against the U of M Bisons Monday at Canada Life Centre.

Ukraine-Bisons tilt hits close to home

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Ukraine-Bisons tilt hits close to home

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

University of Manitoba goaltender Ross Hawryluk and his teammates are focused on a high-pressure second-half run for a Canada West playoff berth.

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Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

U of M goaltender Ross Hawryluk is one of the many Bisons players with Ukrainian roots.

Bisons bench boss calling it a career

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Bisons bench boss calling it a career

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023

Truth be told, Mike Sirant would have preferred to ride off into the sunset with not so much as a word about his retirement.

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Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023

Sirant led the Bisons to 21 playoff appearances, two trips to the national championship and won three conference coach-of-the-year awards since taking the head coaching reins in 1992-93. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Portage la Prairie gearing up for Centennial Cup

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Portage la Prairie gearing up for Centennial Cup

Mike Sawatzky 4 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023

Portage la Prairie staged a successful national junior A hockey championship in 2015, capped by the hometown Terriers winning the title.

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Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023

Portage Terriers photo

Portage defenceman Kian Calder (25) looks for an opening on the Winnipeg Blues net while forwards Matt Wisener (17) and Gavin Klaassen (20) wait for a pass or rebound.

Late surge powers Gee-Gees past Wesmen

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Late surge powers Gee-Gees past Wesmen

Mike Sawatzky 5 minute read Friday, Dec. 30, 2022

Shawn Maranan didn’t need any extra inspiration for Friday night’s Wesmen Classic men’s basketball final.

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Friday, Dec. 30, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ Josh Inkumasah slams down a dunk in the Wesman Classic final against the University of Winnipeg Friday at the Duckworth Centre.