Stephanie Mould was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the meet as she led Cowichan Secondary School to the Island girls title at the zone championship in Esquimalt last weekend.
The Island meet was a huge success for wrestlers from throughout the Cowichan Valley as 20 athletes qualified for the provincial championship meet in Salmon Arm next month.
Mould was picked by other coaches as the Most Outstanding Wrestler on the girls’ side of the Island competition, the second time this year that she has achieved that honour, after winning the 57kg class.
“Stephanie had one of her best tournaments yet,” Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club head coach Nick Zuback said. “The one girl she wrestled in the final beat her last time they wrestled. I was a little worried, but when Stephanie stepped up to the mat, her confidence was high. She decimated the other girl; it wasn’t even close.”
Two other Cowichan Secondary athletes also won their weight classes: Andrea Morris at 51kg and Miaya Brownbridge at 64kg.
The gold medal for Morris was her first of the year, as she has consistently had to face CVWC teammate Hannah Tuplin in competition. Being in different classes this time gave them both a chance to win.
“Andrea did really well, In her Grade 12 year, to end up as Island champion is great,” Zuback said.
Brownbridge was the lone entry in her weight class at Islands, and didn’t have to compete, but will still contend for a provincial medal.
“She wrestled really well at the Alberni Invitational,” Zuback said. “Hopefully she’ll place in the top six at provincials. If she does, Cowichan Secondary might have an opportunity to be in the top three teams in the province.”
Tuplin easily won the 54kg class for Chemainus Secondary.
“She dominated the other girls,” Zuback said. “She’s in another league, basically. I know she’s going to have a couple of good matches at provincials, but she’ll be looking for that first place that has eluded her.”
The Grade 11 wrestler is a two-time national champion, but has been denied a title at the provincial meet.
“That’s the one thing that she hasn’t been able to achieve yet,” Zuback said.
Queen of Angels School wrestlers Hayley Bye-Pace and Kora Paige also qualified for provincials by placing second in their weight classes.
Bye-Pace marked the beginning of a changing of the guard in the 60kg class as the ninth grader kept things close in the final against a Grade 12 wrestler from Port Alberni.
“She’s going to be more confident going into provincials,” Zuback said.
Paige claimed the silver medal in the 47kg class.
“For a new wrestler for the sport, she wrestled really well,” Zuback said.
Two more Q of A wrestlers won gold on the boys side of the competition as Talon Hird won the 48kg class and Joran Branting finished atop the 38kg class.
Hird, who won the provincial title as a Grade 8 last year, showed that he is ready to challenge for another B.C. championship.
“He’s already competing at a high level,” Zuback said. “He basically tacked or pinned everyone he wrestled.”
Branting also demonstrated provincial-level talent.
“He had an awesome tournament,” Zuback said. “He’s just gotten so much better in a short time. It’s a great feat for him. He’s probably in the top three in the province right now.”
Cowichan Secondary wrestlers Owen Mackenzie and Ryan Kuruvita won silver at 57kg and 66kg, respectively.
“Owen was in one of the toughest weight classes,” Zuback said. “One of the kids he beat was a provincial placer last year. It went back and forth. Owen was exhausted at the end. It was great to see him show lots of grit and no-quit attitude.”
Kuruvita, who returned to wrestling this year after three years away, showed that he hadn’t lost a step during that time.
“He had some really good matches,” Zuback said. “He made one little error and got caught.”
Also placing second was William Rithaler, who edged ahead of Q of A teammate Kaelem Gray in the 45kg weight class.
“William came back from down 11 or 12 points to four against Kaelem. One little error, and he got Kaelem into pin position and pinned him. Kaelem is new to the sport, and one little error cost him.”
Other Q of A athletes placing third were Mattias Zachary at 38kg, Paul Belcourt at 41kg, Ashton Combdon at 51 kg, and Sukhman Sahota at 54kg. Josh Wong of Frances Kelsey placed third in the 48kg class, and Aidan Tuplin of Duncan Christian finished third at 63kg.
Also qualifying for provincials with fourth-place results were Fraser Willmott of Kelsey and Anthony Anderson, a student at Wellington in Nanaimo who wrestles with the Cowichan club.