More than 600 wrestlers will converge on the Alberni Valley Multiplex this weekend for the 30th annual Alberni Invitational Wrestling Tournament for three days of intense wrestling action in five different age groups.
Another 200 will compete in categories such as the Open, Elementary and Grappling divisions.
The Alberni Invitational is widely considered the most prestigious high school wrestling tournament in B.C. and has received recognition across Canada, an Alberni Wrestling spokesperson said.
The tournament started in 1980 and has run every year except the four years the local wrestling group hosted the BC High School Championships. That means 34 straight years that this dedicated group of volunteers have run a major wrestling tournament in the Alberni Valley.
“We are extremely proud of the history and traditions our wrestling program has established over the past 35 years,” tournament director Tom McEvay said.
“No other wrestling program in B.C. can boast that they have run 34 major tournaments and many would be happy to have done it once.”
“Since this is a milestone year for us we are calling on all alumni to come back and celebrate with us. Come and take in the action, support our current wrestlers, join us for some socializing and get a commemorative Alberni Wrestling Alumni shirt.”
Action begins on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. with weigh-ins for boys and girls in the three middle and secondary aged divisions at the new Alberni District Secondary School.
Tournament action will run all day on Friday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Alberni Valley Multiplex. The first session from 9 a.m. –noon will feature Cadet (grade 9-10) and Juvenile (grade 11-12) wrestlers before lunch.
An Elementary Division returns this year with more than 100 local youngsters expected to participate.
The Elementary division runs from 12-3 p.m. Friday along with the Middle School or School age Division (Grades 6-8).
Friday night at 7 p.m. will feature the semi-finals as well as the Open division, where alumni and college wrestlers can test their skills. The conclusion of the rest of the preliminary matches in the age class divisions will begin Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Medal matches will start at about 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
The finals in the Schoolboy/girl division (grade 6-8) and Cadet (gr 9-10) will start at noon on Saturday.
The Juvenile (grade 11-12) finals start at 2:30 pm on Saturday and should wrap up by 3:30 p.m.
There is no cost for spectators for the preliminaries and the finals are by donation.
Returning for the third year to this year’s Invitational will be the Grappling division that will run on Saturday, thanks to a partnership with Dragon Martial Arts.
Grappling is another variation of wrestling that is now sanctioned by the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association.
Registrations for grappling are open to all interested participants of all ages. Registration and weigh-in for grappling will take place Friday night at the Multiplex at 7 p.m. with grappling action starting soon at 9 a.m. Saturday.
There will be a grappling officials’ clinic and an athletes’ rules clinic at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The Alberni Valley Wrestling Club seems a good bet to repeat as the top overall program at this year’s event but they will be pushed by the strong Capilano and Upper Fraser Valley Clubs.