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Langley Little League champs gather for Hall of Fame induction

Team that went to World Series honoured
The 1998 Langley Little League team that went to the Little League World Series. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

The young Langley ballplayers who made it all the way to the Little League World Series 26 years ago are being honoured this month with induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

The 1998 Langley Little League team powered through their season that year, winning provincial and national championships.

Then the team of 11- and 12-year-old boys headed to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to face off with some of the top teams from around the world.

When they faced Kashima, Japan in the international final, the boys were on a 19-game unbeaten streak. They’d already defeated the team from Kashima in round-robin play.

But the game would go to extra innings, with Kashima eking out a 4-3 win.

The boys didn’t take it hard, remembers coach Dave Mihalech. By later that day, they were hanging out in the pool with the kids from Japan who had just won the game.

Mihalech said that team set several records that still stand to this day in B.C.

READ MORE: 1998 Langley baseball team makes BC Sports Hall of Fame

The team had won the provincials at age 11, and Mihalech was invited to coach them going forward, with hopes that they could go to the provincial or even national level again.

He met them on a workout day, and agreed to take on the job.

“The thing that impressed me the most wasn’t their skills, it was their happiness, how they got along so well,” he said.

They had solid parental support, and the core of the team would go on two more World Series-level tournaments.

Since then, the members of the team have gone on to a variety of pursuits, some involving baseball and athletics.

“Several got scholarships,” noted Mihalech.

Jordan Lennerton had the most successful baseball career. He was on the 2007 College World Series-winning team from Oregon State, and played minor league baseball for several years after the Detroit Tigers drafted him into their organization. Lennerton played with teams like the Erie SeaWolves and the Toledo Mud Hens at the AAA level.

Some went into other sports, like Jared Krause, who went on to play high-level volleyball on both the courts at UBC and as a beach volleyball player.

Some of the players have moved away from B.C., living in places as different as Idaho and Dubai, said Mihalech. One young man has unfortunately passed away.

But most of them still live in the Langley area, and a number are coaching, he said.

“I’m very proud of the paths they all took,” said Mihalech.

They’ve met up for a few reunions over the years, and this May 15 and 16, most of the original 14 players will be at the induction, and then the gala evening. They’re being inducted alongside athletes like ballplayer Justin Morneau, swimmer Ryan Cochrane, and golfer Richard Zokol.

Mihalech was contacted about the induction last October, and he said it left him speechless.

The group will stand out even among the other inductees.

“We’re the only youth team to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the only baseball team,” said Mihalech.

The full team being inducted is: Andrew Bell, Faizan Choudhry, Clayton Deglan, George Duda (coach), Jeff Duda, Mike Erickson, Brad Fraser, Mark Henderson, Jared Krause, Jordan Lennerton, Brett Logan, Brad MacDonald, Dave Mihalech (coach), Gary Mikesh (coach), Tanner Mikesh, Karl Reddick, Brian Sargent (manager), Sean Sargent.

“Twenty-six years later, and I still call them boys,” the coach said of the team.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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