Members of Alberni District Secondary School’s wrestling teams celebrate their provincial accomplishments in March 2018. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Alberni Armada to host 36th annual wrestling invitational Feb. 1–2

The Alberni Armada Wrestling Invitational, long regarded as one of the premier wrestling tournaments in the country, is ready to go again. The 36th annual tournament runs Feb. 1-2 in the Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) gyms. In an effort to connect more closely with their roots at the high school the Invitational was moved back to ADSS in 2015 and it has proven a great success.

The tournament started in 1980 and has run every year except the four years the local wrestling group hosted the BC High School Championships. Last year ADSS hosted the BC championships in the Multiplex and a pared down version of the Armada Invitational at ADSS. That means 40 straight years that this dedicated group of volunteers have run a major wrestling tournament in the Alberni Valley.

The event was held at the old ADSS from 1982 to 1994 before moving to Glenwood Centre in 1995 and then the Alberni Valley Multiplex in 2003 as it got so large.

“We are extremely proud of the history and traditions our wrestling program has established over the past 40 years,” tournament co-chair James Messenger said.

“No other wrestling program in BC can boast that they have run 40 major tournaments and many would be happy to have done it once. This is our 36th invitational to go along with five provincials and it only happens because of the amazing volunteer spirit in our community. I am honoured to be helping lead an event so rich in history.”

Messenger, Mike Roberts and Jeannette Badovinac are co-chairs for the invitational.

Messenger continued, “The invitational is an important annual event not just for our wrestlers and coaches but for all our wrestling community. It is an opportunity for our alumni, past volunteers, parents and anyone involved in our program to come celebrate with us.”

Messenger invites members of the public to come and take in the action, support current wrestlers, enjoy some socializing and visit ADSS’s gym facilities.

“We are very excited to showcase our local wrestlers at ADSS as this is their program,” he added.

Action at the 36th Invitational begins on Friday, Feb. 1 with morning weigh-ins for boys and girls in the cadet and juvenile divisions at 9 a.m. at ADSS. At 9:30 a.m. Friday there will be a dual meet between the ADSS wrestling team and Vancouver College along with feature female matches. The two teams will do battle for the ceremonial “McEvay Post”.

The public are welcome at these matchups but seats will be limited as the ADSS student body will pack the ADSS gym to support their team.

Official opening ceremonies for the invitational are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. Tournament action gets underway at 2 p.m. and runs to at least 8:30 p.m., all at ADSS. Organizers expect the semi-finals to start around 7 p.m. Friday evening but get there early. There is no gate cost.

The Alberni Invitational tournament action will start again Saturday, Feb. 2 at 8:30 a.m. with preliminary matches continuing until about 10:30 a.m. From about 10:30 a.m. to noon will be matches for fifth and sixth places as well as third and fourth places in each weight class. Finals are scheduled to start close to 12:30 p.m. and will run until close to 4 p.m. Again on Saturday admission is free but space will be limited.

Not only do local fans have an opportunity for some great competition at the invitational, you also will once again see very competitive Alberni wrestlers. Although ADSS graduated a number of wrestlers from their 2018 BC Championship teams, the 2019 Armada Team also has the potential to win.

This season the ADSS Boys Juvenile (Grades 11/12) and Cadet (Grades 9/10) teams are both currently ranked in the top three in the province going into this event.

They will likely battle it out with more than 50 other schools for the team titles in these age divisions. These teams could include Guildford Park of Surrey, Vancouver College, WJ Mouat, Maple Ridge and Island power Cowichan.

The ADSS girls have been battle injuries and illness but if healthy certainly have the potential to win the Juvenile Division against teams from Maple Ridge, Cowichan, and Notre Dame.

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