A large group of Alberni Wrestlers competed at the annual War on the Floor wrestling tournament at Simon Fraser University on Friday and Saturday.
Friday was the novice event for wrestlers that are relatively new to the sport or have not placed provincially. A number of Alberni wrestlers demonstrated they are ready to make the jump into the elite level of high school wrestling. Emma McGowan, Morgan Dagenais, and Trevor Barker led the way with medals in their individual weight classes. McGowan in only her second year of wrestling dominated and took home a gold medal. Dagenais and Barker battled to bronze medals and looked strong throughout the tournament.
Club coach Chris Bodnar commented on the readiness of these athletes to succeed at the elite level. “All three of these kids work extremely hard at practice and…good things happen to those who are prepared to put in the time’.’
Others doing well at the novice tournament included Daniel Spencer and Seth Price, who placed fourth in their respective weights. Trenton Vanderkooi, Ali Flaro, Jayce Clayton, and Ravi Manhas all finished strong to place fifth in their weight classes.
Saturday saw a much higher level of competition. Many teams from Alberta and Saskatchewan made the trip to Simon Fraser University for some elite level wrestling and they we not disappointed. Head coach John McDonald commented on the level at this year’s elite tournament.
“The out-of-province teams at this tournament make the tournament in many weight classes tougher than the provincial championships. It a great opportunity to get very high level competition in order to see what we need to work on at practice’’.
Seniors Nolan Badovinac and Michelle Kurucz did not disappoint. Badovinac, missing much of last year with a knee injury, is making the most of his Grade 12 year. Drawing up against one of the top ranked wrestlers in the country in Tyron Gardner from the ROC Wrestling Club out of Calgary, Badovinac took control and defeated Gardner en route to a gold medal performance at 78kgs.
Kurucz also had to defeat a top wrestler from the Jr. Dinos out of Calgary to secure a spot in the finals, finishing with a silver medal at 60kgs.
Price as a seventh-grader competed in the elite tournament to gain experience. He wrestled extremely well against older competitors and proved that age and experience does not matter. Price battled his way to a silver medal at 38kgs.
Others competing in the elite tournament and doing well included, Dagenais, Manhas, McGowan and Lauren Barker. Each wrestler placed fourth in their weight class.
Isaac McDonald also travelled with the team and placed fifth in a very tough 48 Kg weight class.
Alberni Wrestling and EJ Dunn Middle School coach James Messenger reflected on the results of the elite tournament. “This is a great opportunity to see how our best kids line up with others around the province and across the country. It allows coaches to see what kids like Nolan Badovinac need to work on technically before he makes the transition to university wrestling,’’, Messenger said.
“Nolan Badovinac is currently looking at his options, he has made it clear that he will be moving on and competing at the next level. Universities from across the country are currently recruiting him and he will likely make a final decision by next spring as to where he will be going in the fall.”
Over the Christmas holidays Alberni wrestlers will still be active. Club practices will continue on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. There will be opportunities for kids to travel to Christmas camps to gain valuable experience at the elite level.
The next major competition for the Alberni squad will be at the BC Age Class in Richmond on Jan. 15.
The annual Alberni Invitational is scheduled for Jan. 2–-24. It will be hosted at the high school this year, with close to 40 teams expected to participate.