Wrestling teams from ADSS, EJ Dunn, and Neill Middle School travelled to Courtenay on Saturday to compete in the Island Novice Wrestling Championships. The tournament marked the official start of the school wrestling season.
The novice tournament is intended for athletes who are relatively new to the sport and there are restrictions as to who can compete. As a result a number of the Alberni wrestlers either did not travel to Courtenay or travelled down to referee rather than wrestle in the tournament.
All three schools had teams place in the top five in their divisions: ADSS girls won the Senior Girls Division. EJ Dunn finished third in both the Junior Boys and Junior Girls. Neill Middle School finished fifth in the Junior Boys Division.
The ADSS girls were led by an outstanding gold medal performance from Kiarra Fong (54kg). “Kiarra is also a star member of the Armada Girls Rugby team,” coach Jeannette Badovinac said.
“The two sports complement each other very well and that showed on the wrestling mat today. Kiarra dominated her opponents and showed that despite being relatively inexperienced she may surprise some top wrestlers this year.
“It is great to see her coming out for another sport. There is a lot of research demonstrating that doing multiple sports will make you a better athlete,” commented Coach Jeannette Badovinac.
Also placing for the Armada girls was Queenie Zhang (3rd at 60kg), Shaunine D’Andrea (4th at 60kg), and Beth Clarke (4th at 54kg).
The Armada also had two males competing in the tournament both of which came home with top six finishes. Trenton Vanderkooi finished with the silver medal at 95kg and Ravi Manhas finished fourth in a competitive 41kg weight class.
EJ Dunn was led by the gold medal performances of William Merry (90kg), Jaden Keshane (82kg), Paige Maher (64kg), and Kyla McAuley (90kg).
“I was really impressed by the performance of all our middle school wrestlers,” commented EJ Dunn Coach Russ Bodnar. “Our whole team has been working hard at practice and it was great to see them test their new skills in some matches. They will continue to get better each with each match. I was really impressed by how dominant Paige Maher was. She has been in kid wrestling the past few years and that experience showed.”
Mackenzie Boudreau (51kg) and Ethan Tramer (48kg) finished with the silver medals in their respective divisions. Kobie Duncan (38kg), Miranda Barker (54kg), and Phillip Broadbent (60kg) rounded out the medal placings for the Dunn Seahawks finishing third in their respective divisions.
Eight other EJ Dunn wrestlers placed in the top six: Koel Strain (4th at 48kg), Jayce Clayton (4th at 78kg), Madeline Duperron (4th at 47kg), Josh Macdonald (5th at 41kg), Illonia Berg (5th at 47kg), Liam Clarke (5th at 51kg), Darien Van Ingen (5th at 45kg), and Samuel Shanks (6th at 45kg).
Neill Middle School had eight wrestlers place in the tournament. Scott Coulthart (70kg) and Owen Spencer (45kg) went undefeated to claim the gold medals. Cameron Cry (70kg) and Brooklyn Milligan (40kg) fought hard to come home with sliver medals in their divisions. Jacob Salvage (3rd at 63kg), Mason Bodnar (3rd at 70kg), Joe Bylsma (5th at 48kg), and Gerrard Graham (6th at 41kg) also finished in the top six for the Neill Talons.
In addition to those competing teams sent down a contingent of elite wrestlers to participate in an Island Practice and rules clinic on Friday. ADSS experienced wrestlers had the opportunity to learn the rules and get some extra practice in. On Saturday they gave back by acting as officials and volunteers at the tournament.
Wrestlers from all three teams will be right back on the mats training this week in preparation for upcoming tournaments. Neill and Dunn have a dual meet at EJ Dunn on December 3rd. Senior wrestlers will compete in Abbotsford on December 6th. On December 13 all wrestlers will travel to Cowichan for the Cougar Invitational. Parents, wrestlers and program supporters interested in finding out more about upcoming wrestling events are encouraged to visit the club’s website www.alberniwrestling.ca.