A unique aspect of the annual Campbell River Invitational wrestling meet is a series of challenge matches at the end of the tournament.
Two gold medallists from each age group are picked by the tournament director. They square off in a series of matches, and the winner of the most exciting match receives a champion’s belt.
Of the six wrestlers selected for challenge matches at last weekend’s meet, five were from the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club. In the Grade 6-7 age bracket, Brayden Zuback, a Grade 4 student at Queen of Angels School, who was already wrestling up a weight class at 35kg took on Elijah Cote of Chemainus Elementary, who wrestled at 38kg. In the Grade 8-9 group, Joaquin Dalton-Pereira of Q of A, who won at 45kg battled Rory Brennan-McCann, the first-ever CVWC wrestler to represent Shawnigan Lake School, the 51kg champion.
The Grade 10-12 challenge match featured Cowichan Secondary’s Talon Hird, who competed at 60kg, against Heath Yee Fung of Vancouver College, who topped the 66kg class. Yee Fung had attended the CVWC camp in early January, where he defeated Hird in a dual-meet match. The tables were turned this time, with four-time provincial champion Hird prevailing 15-11 to take the belt he just missed out on a year ago.
“It was back and forth,” CVWC head coach Nick Zuback said. “They went the entire distance. Talon was pretty stoked. For him to go in, in his Grade 12 year, and win it, that’s another notch in his belt.”
The challenge matches were just the tip of the iceberg for a Cowichan club that had a number of outstanding showings in Campbell River.
Jacob Fraser is in Grade 7 at École Cobble Hill but still won the Grade 8-9 63kg class in convincing fashion.
“He’s definitely one to watch the next few years,” Zuback said. “His technique and strength are above his age level. He’s wrestling like a Grade 10.”
The Grade 10-12 63kg class was won by Cowichan Secondary’s Ashton Combdon.
“He’s been wrestling really well in practice,” the coach commented. “And it’s really showing in his results.”
Also from Cowichan Secondary, Dawson Jory finished on top of the Grade 10-12 74kg class.
“He’s normally 70kg, but he wanted to get bigger,” Zuback related. “He fit in perfectly. His was one of the last matches before the challenges, so everyone was watching. Dawson threw the guy, just picked him up and tossed him. Seventy-four is a good choice for him to be competing at.”
Sisters Charlie and Loryn Roberts of Queen Margaret’s and Queen of Angels, respectively, came home with double gold. Charlie won the Grade 10-12 girls 51kg class, and Loryn won the Grade 8-9 girls 57kg class. Zuback thinks the sisters could add to their accomplishments this weekend.
“They’re really looking forward to the age class championships to see how they do against the rest of the province,” he said. “It would be nice to see the sisters pull it off. It’s all clicking for them right now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at the top of the podium this weekend.”
The Age Grade meet will take place at Abbotsford Friday and Saturday. Several wrestlers will also compete in the university tournament on Sunday
“We’re hoping to have a big crew, hopefully one of the biggest we’ve ever had.”