Wrestlers from Alberni District Secondary School showed up with their best performance in 20 years at the BC Secondary Schools Wrestling Championships at the Alberni Valley Multiplex from March 1-3.
This was Alberni’s fifth time hosting the BC Championships, and the event drew more than 100 schools from across British Columbia, represented by more than 600 athletes.
ADSS’s strong performance was headlined by Grade 12 student Aaron Badovinac, who had a gold-medal performance at last year’s provincials in Salmon Arm. He was able to defend his title this year in the 74 kg Boys Division without wrestling. His opponent, Daniel Spencer (also from ADSS), received a head injury and was unable to compete in the final.
“It feels good,” said Badovinac on Saturday after his gold medal was announced. “It’s nice to be able to defend the BC Championships here in my home town. It’s too bad I didn’t get to wrestle in front of my home crowd in the finals, but it is what it is.”
Along with Badovinac, Bobby McKenzie (41 kg) and Paige Maher (75 kg) took home gold for Port Alberni.
They were three of the nine ADSS wrestlers who made it to the finals. Malika McDonald (40 kg), Ravi Manhas (45 kg), Seth Price (57 kg), Owen Spencer (60 kg) and Daniel Spencer (74 kg) took home silver. Isaac McDonald (70 kg) also received silver, after a leg injury in the finals left him unable to complete his match.
MacKenzie Boudreau (69 kg) received bronze.
Rounding out the Alberni performances were Miranda Barker (90 kg) and William Merry (130 kg), who both placed fourth, and Anna Frost (54 kg) and Jayce Clayton (90 kg), who finished fifth. Scott Coulthart (90 kg) finished sixth.
The Alberni girls finished with 37 points. The boys finished with 102 points—35 points ahead of the second place New Westminster Secondary School. With these point totals, ADSS received the girls, boys and the prestigious combined aggregate Championship.
2018 marked the first time in 20 years that ADSS has won the boys’ banner. In 1998, ADSS won the boys’ banner, as well as the girls’ banner and aggregate banner.
”To have this happen again, 20 years later, is phenomenal,” said ADSS head coach John McDonald.
The event itself went off without a hitch, and organizers credit a hard-working group of volunteers.
“You couldn’t have asked for better,” said co-chair, and ADSS athletic director, Mike Roberts. “The accolades from players and coaches around the province has been incredible. It’s all of the volunteers that make this happen. They’re all to look themselves in the mirror tonight and give themselves a pat on the back. I think we showed the Valley and the province that we still have an amazing athletic program and an amazing wrestling program.”
“It certainly was a memorable event, and one that will go down in history,” added co-chair James Messenger.
McDonald credited something unusual for Alberni’s strong performance.
“The kids noticed in a picture 20 years ago, I had a mustache,” said McDonald. “So I had to grow the mustache out.
“They’re going to want me to wear it next year. I think I’m just going to get a fake one,” he added with a laugh.
”Maybe that will make a difference for next year, we’ll see. Right now, we’ll just enjoy the moment.”
It was also an emotional weekend, as Alberni Wrestling president Tom McEvay announced this would be his last year chairing a major tournament.
Although McEvay will not be retiring, he will be “stepping back” a bit from the wrestling program, after suffering a stroke in late 2017.
During a speech in the opening ceremony, Messenger credited McEvay for much of Alberni’s success in wrestling.
“It’s not a fluke,” he said. “It’s not something in the water in Port Alberni. It’s because of the quality of our leader.”
Statistics, he added, are just a small part of McEvay’s impact on the community.
“You cannot quantify or measure what Tom has done by counting medals and championships,” he said. “These are only a small part of Tom’s success and impact. We will never know how many wrestlers Tom has kept in school, has helped graduate, has provided with the skills and character to be a good employee, a good parent or a good community member. We’ll never know how many youth Tom has kept out of jail, or maybe even alive.
“We don’t know these numbers, but I know that these are more impressive, and I know that’s really what Tom uses to gauge his success.”