Paige Maher and her coach Jeannette Badovinac celebrate Maher’s gold medal in the 69 kg division. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Paige Maher and her coach Jeannette Badovinac celebrate Maher’s gold medal in the 69 kg division. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Port Alberni wrestler earns national champion title

ADSS wrestler Paige Maher won the Women’s U17 69kg division

A young Port Alberni wrestler has been named a national champion.

Alberni District Secondary School wrestler Paige Maher won the Women’s U17 69kg division and took home the national champion title after the U17/U19 Canadian Wrestling Championships in Fredericton, New Brunswick last weekend.

The Alberni Valley Wrestling Club sent five athletes to the nationals from April 3-7. The three days were comprised of several different tournaments: day one saw men’s Freestyle, day two showcased women’s Freestyle and men’s Cadet National Team Trials and day three hosted women’s Cadet Team Trials and Greco Roman wrestling.

Alberni got off to a good start on the first day of competition. Seth Price (60 kg), Owen Spencer (65 kg), Scott Coulthart (92kg) and Jayce Clayton (92 kg) all started the day with wins. Price battled hard in the tough 60 kg division finishing the day with a 3-2 record, one match away from placing top six. Spencer ran into some trouble against his second opponent, Colby Sanders of the Matman Club, but rebounded to finish just out of the placings with a record of 3-2. Scott Coulthart wrestled very well, also finishing just shy of top six with a record of 4-2. Senior wrestler Jayce Clayton led the boys with a strong performance, going 5-2 for the tournament and finishing in fourth place.

“Our young men performed extremely well today,” commented Coach Chris Bodnar. “These are the best wrestlers in the country and our athletes were competitive in every match. I’m especially happy for Grade 12 Jayce Clayton, who finished his high school career with a top four placing. Jayce has been one of our most consistent and hardworking athletes this year and his efforts definitely paid off.”

Day 2 featured the women’s freestyle event. Alberni’s provincial champion, Paige Maher, proved she is not only the best in B.C., but the best in Canada. Maher was dominant, plowing through her first two opponents without relinquishing a point. Maher faced a tough Makena Ricard from Regina in the final, but there was never any doubt as to who the better wrestler was.

“The most impressive thing about Paige’s performance this weekend was how poised and in control she was both on and off the mats,” said Coach Jeannette Badovinac. “She had an air of confidence which, combined with her great technique and athleticism, made her unstoppable.”

The final day of competition showcased the female Cadet National Team trials used to determine National Team members. The top three U17 and top five U19 athletes are eligible to compete in the Cadet trials. Paige Maher was again a powerhouse as she rolled through her first three competitors handily. Maher’s only loss came against U19 Vienne Rouleau from Edmonton. Rouleau won the U19 69kg division and proved to be Maher’s equal. The two battled to a 2-2 final score, with Rouleau winning on criteria as she scored the last point. Both Rouleau and Maher earned spots on the Canadian National Team and will represent Canada over the next year. Maher will be travelling to Romania in early May for her first tournament and camp representing her country.

The third day also included the Greco Roman Tournament. Greco Roman is a style of wrestling that involves only upper body and is not a style that high school athletes train in. Alberni wrestlers have limited experience wrestling this style. What they lacked in experience, the Alberni wrestlers made up for in heart. Owen Spencer wrestled well, losing in the final to bring home a silver medal. Scott Coulthart and Jayce Clayton battled each other in the fifth/sixth match, with Coulthart edging Clayton by 15- 16 to claim fifth place.

“It was great to see the team having fun and pushing themselves to try new styles,” said Coach Owen Coulthart. “There was a lot of action and excitement in their matches so it was a terrific way to end the season.”

The National tournament marks the end of the competitive season for the Armada team. Thursday, April 25 is Alberni Wrestling’s annual awards night. It is a free, after dinner event at ADSS that celebrates the hard work put in by all involved. If you would like to attend, please contact John McDonald at jmcdonald@sd70.bc.ca or Jeannette Badovinac at jbadovinac@sd70.bc.ca.

April marks the beginning of a busy fundraising season for our athletes. If you would like to support our wrestlers or would like more information, please visit our website: www.alberniwrestling.ca.