A full team of Alberni Valley wrestlers travelled to Esquimalt last Saturday to compete in the Island Novice Wrestling Championships. The tournament marks the official start of the competitive 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, coach James Messenger explained. As a result a number of the more senior Alberni wrestlers participated in the tournament as referees and a few took the weekend off to rest.
As a team the Alberni Wrestling Club won the Senior Girls Division and finished second in the Junior Boys, Junior Girls, and Senior Boys. Coaches were excited to see the team successful in all four divisions.
Individually, 20 Alberni wrestlers finished with medals in their respective weight classes. Mason Bodnar (Jr. Boys 84kg), Rowan Cole (Jr. Girls 32 kg), Caitlyn Baker (Jr. Girls 41 kg), Duncan McLeod (Sr. Boys 44 kg), and Paige Maher (Sr. Girls 78kg) all went undefeated to claim the gold medal in their divisions.
“Obviously all of our gold medalists did an excellent job,” noted coach John McDonald.
“I was particularly impressed by Paige Maher who wrestled up in the senior division. Paige has had a lot of success in the elementary divisions. She is very strong and solid technically for her age.
“Sometimes you forget she is only in Grade 8 and has many years of high school competition ahead of her.
“I was also really excited to see the crop of kids that are coming up through our Junior Club system. I think that will really help with the transition to ADSS.”
Finishing with silver medals in their weight classes was Cooper Day (Jr. Boys 43kg), Brenden Iversen (Jr. Boys 47kg), Cole Robinson (Jr. Boys 52kg), George Batt (Jr. Boys 59kg), Austin Kasten (Jr. Boys 58kg), Manbir Narang (Jr. Boys 71kg), Duncan Richardson (Jr. Boys 84kg), Malika McDonald (Jr. Girls 39kg), Keanna Sept (Jr. Girls 52 kg), Megan Price (Jr. Girls 77kg), and Miranda Barker (Sr. Girls 78kg).
Evan McLeod (Jr. Boys 34kg), Ezra Frost (Jr. Boys 47kg), Austin Caton (Jr. Boys 58kg), and Anika Elder (Jr. Girls 32kg) all wrestled their way to the bronze medals in their weight classes.
Four Alberni wrestlers participated in a kids division (Grades K – 5). Though placings were not awarded in that division they wrestled very well. Congratulations to Justin Elliot, Brock Girard, Grant Coulthart and Aidan Evans.
“I was pleased with how all our kids wrestled at the tournament,” noted assistant coach Lauren Barker.
“They were trying the moves we have been practicing over the last few weeks and it is obvious they are paying attention to what we have been coaching and working on. Of course there is lots of room for improvement too.”
In addition to marking the start of the competitive season for high school aged athletes, the tournament marked another important milestone for the Alberni Wrestling Club. It was the first ever tournament for members of the newly formed Junior Club. Elementary aged athletes who were keen to continue on with wrestling at the completion of the elementary season have been training on Wednesday evenings and will have a number of opportunities to compete before wrapping up the club season in February.
“We want kids to be multi-sport athletes at this young age,” Junior Club coach James Messenger said. “At the same time we got a lot of feedback from parents and wrestlers that the shorter elementary season wasn’t quite enough.
“Our thought was that having only one practice a week, in the evening, would encourage the young wrestlers to go out for other sports but still have the opportunity to develop as wrestlers. There is a lot of research showing the benefits of being involved with a variety of activities of this age.
“We have a great group of kids and coaches coming out each Wednesday night and their success at the tournament was certainly encouraging.”
Wrestlers will be right back on the mats training this week in preparation for the Cougar Invitational in Chemanius on Dec. 10. In addition to Junior Club kids the tournament will see the ADSS Armada field a full squad of wrestlers.
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.