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Port Alberni’s 2024 wrestling invitational draws hundreds

Alberni District Secondary School hosts 39th annual wrestling event

Hundreds of athletes took to the mats at Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) last weekend for the annual Alberni Wrestling Invitational.

In the senior division, Port Alberni’s Sage Dziekan-Gwilt emerged as a standout, clinching first place in the 69-kg senior girls category and earning an award as the Female Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. Dziekan-Gwilt faced a formidable opponent in Jasnoor Mann from WJ Mouat Secondary School, which coaches say set the stage for a potential preview of the provincial final later this month.

The senior division also saw Grade 12 ADSS wrestlers Grant Coulthart, Kelcie Sam and Alex McKenzie battling for podium finishes. Despite facing tough competition in the 63-kg weight class, McKenzie secured a bronze medal after a comeback victory in the backside semi-finals against the provincial champion from the previous year, Carter Zubak.

In the junior division, Port Alberni’s Marcus Newton secured victory in the 45-kg junior boys category. Additionally, Grade 8 wrestler Holly Coatta impressed by claiming a silver medal in the 51-kg junior girl category.

“We were thrilled to see all our athletes impress throughout the tournament,” said coach Maureen Miller at the end of the invitational. “It was really great to see them putting together pieces we’ve been working on all season.”

While a number of wrestlers are now preparing for the upcoming provincial championships later this month, this was the final tournament for many of the younger ADSS wrestlers. Miller says ADSS has a young team this year, with most of their team in Grade 8 or 9. Port Alberni even won third place in the Junior Girls category at this year’s invitational.

“It’s been amazing to see them improve all year, and some of them had great finishes,” said Miller. “The future is really bright for our team.”

Tournament organizer and Alberni Valley Wrestling Club president James Messenger acknowledged the hard work and dedication put forth by athletes, families, coaches and community volunteers behind the scenes.

He said this year’s invitational was the largest tournament the school has hosted so far.

“Last year we had 300 [wrestlers], this year we had 460,” said Messenger. “That made it a little tighter for logistics, but it was a great event. It was a great job from all our volunteers, and I can’t say enough about our coaches, our athletes and our community members.”

This was the 39th annual Alberni Armada Invitational Wrestling Tournament. The tournament started in 1980 and has run every year, except the four years the local wrestling club has hosted the provincials (and one year cancelled due to COVID-19). Messenger says that is an accomplishment in itself.

“We want to keep doing a great job,” said Messenger. “I think this is widely regarded as one of the best wrestling tournaments in B.C., if not in Western Canada, so we want to keep doing the great work.”

ADSS Results:

Gold medallists: Sage Dziekan-Gwilt, Marcus Newton

Silver medallist: Holly Coatta

Bronze Medal: Alex McKenzie, Grant Coulthart, Danika Currie, Kamryn Mallon, Kelcie Sam

Fourth place: Nolan Cross, Andrei Makofka, Seth Romeril, Paige George

Fifth place: Kellen Hiltz, Gavin Fong

Sixth place:

Griffin Messenger

Team Results:

Junior Girls:

1. Quamichan

2. Ucluelet


Most Outstanding Junior Girl:

Kennedy Bruno (Ucluelet - 51 kg)

Junior Boys:

1. Carson Graham

2. Quamichan

3. Argyle

Most Outstanding Junior Boy:

Tyson Deane Freeman (Maple Ridge - 51 kg)

Senior Girls:

1. Maple Ridge

2. Vanier

3. QMS

Most Outstanding Senior Girl:

Sage Dziekan-Gwilt (ADSS - 69 kg)

Senior Boys:

1. WJ Mouat

2. Carson Graham

3. Maple Ridge

Most Outstanding Senior Boy:

Arad Ahangi (Carson Graham - 63 kg)

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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