Wrestling teams from Alberni District Secondary School, EJ Dunn and Neill Middle School travelled to Victoria on Saturday to compete at the Island Novice Wrestling Championships. The tournament marks 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 Victoria or travelled down to referee rather than wrestle in the tournament.
Despite having only a portion of their wrestlers compete the local teams did very well, according to their coaches.
EJ Dunn Middle School won the Junior Girls Division.
EJ Dunn was led by the gold medal performances of Kalissa Montgomery (43 kg) and Morgan Dagenais (51 kg), while Mackenzie Boudreau (34 kg), Aleadra Flaro (43 kg), and Kylea Anderson (51 kg) finished second in their respective weight classes.
“Our girls did an awesome job today. Morgan and Kalissa are two of the leaders on our team so I was not surprised to see them do well today,” coach Andrew Edgell said.
“Our new Grade 6 wrestlers surprised me though, competing in their first tournament. We have a great crew of kids coming out to practice at EJ Dunn. They all work hard, listen and are quite coachable,” he said.
AW Neill Middle School also had two athletes compete and place in the Junior Girls Division. Teela Johnson finished with the bronze medal at 46 kilograms while Amina Mossa finished in fifth place at 51 kilograms.
In the Junior Boys Division, Neill Middle School finished in fifth place overall with 25 points while their cross-town rivals EJ Dunn finished sixth with 24 points. Neill was led by the bronze medal performances of Seth Price (35kg) and Daniel Spencer (51 kg).
Owen Spencer (4th at 35kg) and Isaac Johnson (6th at 35 kg) rounded out the placings for Neill.
Coach Russ Bodnar offered this assessment of his team’s performance: “We have a very young group at Neill this year. What they lack in experience they make up for with enthusiasm. We are still hoping to recruit a few more kids out to our practices Monday and Wednesday after school.
“With longtime teacher-coach Mrs. (Erin) Anker out of the school on maternity leave we have seen our numbers dip a little. Hopefully the success and fun these guys are having will bring a few more out.”
EJ Dunn had 10 wrestlers place in the Junior Boys Division. Dunn was led by Isaac McDonald (41kg) and Matthew Grimston (60kg), who both went undefeated to claim gold in their weight classes.
“Isaac and Matthew both looked strong. Both wrestlers have made it out to a lot of practices but have not been able to compete in a lot of tournaments,” coach James Messenger said.
“Isaac plays rep hockey so he has to balance his commitments. We are happy to see him compete when he can and it was certainly great to see him go undefeated today.”
Trevor Barker (2nd at 31kg), Jayce Clayton (2nd at 60kg), and Dean Fyfe (3rd at 31kg) also contributed to Dunn’s medal count. Yanick Contant (4th at 45 kg), Austin Patten (4th at 63kg), Kerrick Frey (5th at 45kg), Jarrod Gagnon (5th at 57kg) and Nathan Stellard (6th at 45kg) rounded out the top six placings for Dunn.
EJ Dunn had one wrestler who coaches felt needed to be moved to the Senior Division for competitive reasons. Aaron Badovinac’s performance on the mat proved the coaches made the right decision.
Badovinac went undefeated in the 54 kilogram Senior Division despite only being in Grade 7.
ADSS had a small number of boys compete and place sixth overall in the Senior Boys Division. Chris Kurucz (2nd at HWT), Jared Beckett (3rd at 54kg), Julian Castro (3rd at ADSS), Kaden Tardif (4th at 73kg), and David Wilson (5th at 64kg) all did a great job of representing the ADSS boys wrestling team.
ADSS had just one female compete in the Senior Girls Division but Elise Huffman did not disappoint as she finished with the bronze medal in the 72 kilogram division.
Reflecting on the results from the day, ADSS coach John McDonald said “all our wrestlers should be proud of how they wrestled. Many wrestled their first match ever.
“All of our wrestlers, including those that didn’t place, showed courage to come to this tournament and wrestle. You learn from every match and I know we will continue to get better.
“That’s why in Alberni wrestling the tradition continues.”
Wrestlers from all three teams will be right back on the mats training this week in preparation for upcoming tournaments. On Dec. 1 wrestlers from all three schools will travel to Duncan to compete in 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 at www.alberniwrestling.ca.