More than 600 wrestlers are descending into Port Alberni this weekend for the 31st running of the Alberni Invitational Wrestling tournament.
The venerable tournament is happening at the Alberni Valley Multiplex from Feb. 6-8.
Wrestlers will be competing in five different age groups. Another 200 wrestlers in categories such as the Open an Elementary divisions.
The tournament is considered one of the most prestigious high school wrestling tournaments in B.C.
The event started in 1980 and has run every year except the four years the local wrestling group hosted the BC High School Championships.
“No other wrestling program in B.C. can boast that they have run 35 major tournaments,” tournament director Tom McEvay said “Many would be happy to have done it once,”
The event starts Feb. 6 with weigh-ins for athletes in the cadet and juvenile divisions.
Action gets underway Feb. 7. Cadet and juvenile classes wrestle first from 9 a.m. 8 p.m. at the multiplex.
In the afternoon, more than 100 wrestlers are competing in the elementary and middle school divisions.
Semi-finals are set to take place on Feb. 7 starting at 6 p.m.
The evening will also feature the open division where alumni and college wrestlers can test their skills.
On Feb. 8, the conclusion of preliminary matches in the age class divisions start at 9 a.m.
Medal matches will start at 10 a.m. The finals in the Schoolboy/girl division (Grade 6-8) and Cadet (Grade 9-10) will start at noon. The Juvenile (Grade 11-12) finals start at 2:30 p.m. and wrap up by 3:30 p.m.
Alberni will be fielding a compet-itive slate of wrestlers, McEvay said.
The ADSS boys team is currently ranked in the top three in the province and could win it all in BC this year.
They will battle it out with over 60 other schools for the team title in the Juvenile and Cadet divisions. These teams could include Guildford Park of Surrey, Carson Graham. Abby Tradit-ional, Burnaby Central, WJ Mouat, Burnaby South and Island powers Cow-ichan, Esquimalt and Campbell River.
The ADSS juvenile girls division is ranked in the top five in BC. Carson Graham, Yale and Terry Fox are all top contenders.
In the schoolboy/girl division, Alberni is fielding strong teams from AW Neill and Dunn Middle Schools, both of which are expected to place in the top 10.
Ucluelet Secondary will also have wrestlers in most age divisions.
The Alberni Valley Wrestling Club seems a good bet to repeat as the top overall program at this year’s event but they will be pushed by the strong Capilano and Upper Fraser Valley Clubs.
There is no admission charge for the preliminary matches.
Admission to the finals is by donation.
Alberni Wrestling will honour four alumni who were recently inducted into the ADSS Athletic Wall of Fame during Totem 59..
The honourees are Travis Cross, Ashlea McManus, Isaac Wing and Tom McEvay.