Miranda Barker (in red) attempts to pin Jackie-Lyn Croft in the all-Armada 90 kg final. Barker was the eventual winner of the 2019 match. (ELENA RARDON/Alberni Valley News)

Port Alberni wrestlers host 37th Invitational

Armada Wrestling Invitational begins Friday, Jan. 31

The Alberni Armada Wrestling Invitational, long regarded as one of the premier wrestling tournaments in the country, is ready to go again. The 37th Annual Alberni Armada Invitational Wrestling Tournament runs Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2020 in the ADSS gymnasiums.

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, says co-chair James Messenger.

The tournament started in 1980 and has run every year except the four years the local wrestling group hosted the BC High School Championships. That means 41 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 41 years. No other wrestling program in BC can boast that they have run 41 major tournaments and many would be happy to have done it once,” Messenger said. “This is our 37th Invitational to go along with five provincials and it only happens because of the amazing volunteer spirit in our community. I am honored to be helping lead an event so rich in history. ” The other co-chairs are Mike Roberts and Jeannette Badovinac.

“The Invitational is an important annual event not just for our wrestlers and coaches but for all our wrestling community,” Messenger said. “It is an opportunity for our alumni, past volunteers, parents and anyone involved in our program to come celebrate with us. Come and take in the action, support our current wrestlers, join us for some socializing and visit the incredible Alberni District Secondary School. We are very excited to showcase our local wrestlers at ADSS as this is their program.”

Action at the 37th Invitational begins on Friday, Jan. 31 with morning weigh-ins for boys and girls in the Cadet and Juvenile divisions at 9 a.m. at ADSS. At 10 a.m. 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”.

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. that evening all at ADSS. Organizers expect the exciting 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. 1 at 8:30 a.m. with the preliminaries continuing until about 10:30 a.m. From about 10:30 a.m. to noon will be matches for fifth and sixth 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 several wrestlers from their 2019 BC Championship team, the 2020 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 3 in the province going into this event. They will likely battle it out with over 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 battling injuries and illness but if healthy certainly have the potential to win the Juvenile Division against teams from Maple Ridge, Cowichan, and Notre Dame.

It will be an exciting few days of wrestling action in the place many observers call “The Wrestling Capital of BC – Port Alberni! “


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Paiger Maher of ADSS (in red) battles it out with Kaitlyn Jinda of Carihi High in 2019. Maher won gold in the close contest. (ELENA RARDON/Alberni Valley News)

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