Alberni District Secondary School’s wrestling team showed their prowess once again, finishing second overall in the Aggregate competition at the 2017 BC High School Wrestling Championships in Salmon Arm.
The Armada finished behind Saint Thomas Moore of Burnaby in the category that combines both the male and female divisions. Maple Ridge was third.
One hundred schools were represented at this year’s championships. In addition to the combined team standings, the Armada boys’ team finished fourth in their division and the girls were top 10. The ADSS boys were only 10 points behind eventual boys champion New Westminster Secondary. Tamanawis of Surrey were second and WJ Mouat of Abbotsford were third. St Thomas Moore won the girls team title with Mission second and Cowichan third.
The Armada had 11 athletes finish in the top six of their weight classes and many others were only one or two wins away from finishing top six. Armada was led by the gold medal performance of Grade 11 wrestler Aaron Badovinac. Badovinac was ranked #1 all season at 74 kg and capped his season as Provincial Champion. Badovinac wrestled well winning his gold medal match by a pin late in the first round against Khalid Emani of Surrey’s Tamanawis Secondary.
“It was great to see Aaron win the gold medal today,” said ADSS Coach John McDonald. “Aaron was fighting an illness and was unable to practice over the past two weeks. He got healthy just in time and although he wasn’t quite at 100 per cent he showed a lot of grit to get the win. He was a finalist last year when he finished second as only a grade 10 so it it was nice to win gold this time. He is one of the top high school wrestlers in Canada right now. ”
Grade 11 Ravi Manhas was also a finalist for the Armada. “Ravi completely dominated his preliminary matches at 45 kg, pinning his opponents in less than 30 seconds” said coach Chris Bodnar. “His semi-final was a little bit tougher but he won that by pin too. In the final he came up against a very tough opponent and had to settle for the silver medal. Ravi is now a three-time provincial medalist with one more year to add to his count.”
The Armada also had two female finalists. In the 75 kilogram division it was a rematch of the Island Championships with Paige Maher facing off against Erin Geddie of Esquimalt. “Despite facing the National Champion in Grade 12, Paige had an exciting match and threatened Geddie with a couple of explosive attacks,” said her aunt and assistant ADSS coach Jeannette Badovinac. It wasn’t enough as Geddie’s experience and strength were just too much for the much younger Maher.
Kyla McAuley finished with the silver medal in the 110 kilogram class loosing the final to a Amanda Silveri from Saint Thomas Moore.
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Daniel Spencer won a hard fought bronze medal at 78 kilograms. “Daniel injured himself in practice and was in a sling most of the week. He showed a lot of grit and determination wrestling through adversity and coming through on the back side,” McDonald said. Spencer lost his first match of the BC’s and came back to win six straight to claim the bronze.
Seth Price (51kg), Isaac McDonald (60kg) and Morgan Dagenais (60kg) finished fifth in their divisions. Bobby McKenzie (38kg), Lane Harris (84kg), and Trenton Vanderkooi (110kg) contributed valuable team points finishing sixth.
“We lost some heart breaking semi-final matches on Friday night,” said Russ Bodnar. “Lane was so close to getting through to the final and Trenton wrestled really smart all tournament long. Seth Price had his opponent worried too. A few seconds or a couple more points and it would have been a different story. But I guess that is wrestling. Our whole team should be proud of how they wrestled. They worked hard to get here and we sometimes take for granted just how tough it is to compete at this level.”
Trevor Barker, Morgan Dagenais, Trenton Vanderkooi, and Lane Harris are key members of the Armada team who graduate this year. They will leave some big shoes to fill however, the bulk of the team returns and are looking forward to hosting the 2018 BC High School Wrestling Championships in Port Alberni at the Multiplex.
The tournament in Salmon Arm marks the official end of the High School season. A handful of wrestlers have been invited to participate in training and competitive opportunities with Team BC over the next few months. Most will turn their attention to developing their athletic skills by playing other sports. A handful of wrestlers will be travelling to Windsor to compete in the Cadet/Juvenile National Championships. Local wrestling families and supporters need to put April 18 on their calendar for the 39th Annual Wrestling Awards Night at the Italian Hall.