More than a third of the 214 wrestlers who competed at the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club’s Cougar Invitational meet last Saturday were representing local schools, the largest such contingent to date.
The field included 63 athletes from the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club, and another 30 from the Queen of Angels School team, the most ever from the area.
“We had close to 100 from the Cowichan Valley,” CVWC head coach Nick Zuback said. “That was pretty exciting to see.”
Those wrestlers combined for 28 first-place finishes, 32 seconds, 20 thirds, 12 fourths and one fifth, while local schools also dominated the team standings. Q of A topped the elementary division with 79 points, nearly twice as many as second-place Alberni, with Bench in third, Maple Bay in fourth and Duncan Christian in fifth. Q of A also won the junior division (Grades 7-9) with 101 points to Alberni District Secondary’s 74, while Cowichan Secondary finished third with 45. Cow High also placed second in the senior division (Grades 10-12).
Q of A had multiple pairs of siblings both take home gold medals, including Valentina Simon in the elementary girls 26-28kg and Zach Simon in the junior boys 35-38kg.
“They both wrestled amazing,” Zuback said. “They had great, close matches. They were definitely well-deserving of first place. It’s cool that siblings did that.”
Zuback’s sons also both claimed gold, Brayden in the primary 23-27kg and Carter in the elementary boys 30-31kg, sisters Loryn and Charlie Roberts also won gold in the elementary girls 41-45kg and junior girls 39-40kg.
Other highlights among the local contingent included:
Sophie Rose of Q of A, gold in the elementary girls 32-33kg
“She’s definitely one to watch,” Zuback said of the Grade 4 student, who is new to the sport this year. “Coach [Eric] Anderson is already thinking she could be the next Hannah Tuplin. She’s a hard worker, she’s gritty, and she’s got the drive to be successful.”
Antonio Iannidinardo of Cobble Hill, gold in the elementary boys 34-47kg
“He was in a very tough weight class as well,” Zuback said. “He’s a hard worker and it paid off.”
Darren Doherty of DCS, gold in the elementary boys 39-40kg
“He beat some tough kids in a big class,” Zuback said. “He’s well-deserving of recognition.”
Nadja Schwarz of Cowichan Secondary, gold in the junior girls 58-63kg
“She’s turning out to be one to watch this year and moving forward.”
Ethan Mellings of Q of A, gold in the junior boys 46-48kg
“He’s following in the footsteps of his sister [former CVWC wrestler and international competitor Maegan Kuruvita]. It’s great to see that success happening.”
Zach Little of Cowichan Secondary, gold in the junior boys 51-52kg
“He got gold in one of the best matches I got to watch and coach. He went past his limit, then ended up winning the match with just seconds to go.”
Dawson Jory of Cowichan Secondary, gold in the junior boys 61-65kg
“He’s new this year, and he’s turning out to be a pretty phenomenal wrestler.”
The CVWC also had plenty of success in the senior ranks, led by Talon Hird of Cowichan Secondary, who took gold in the senior boys 52-57kg.
“He’s our team captain, and he doesn’t miss a beat,” Zuback said. “He was wrestling up [a weight class], but that doesn’t stop him. He’s just a beast.”
Chemainus’s Hannah Tuplin won the senior girls’ 52-57kg class, and Cowichan Secondary’s Stephanie Mould also claimed gold as her school took the top three spots in the senior girls 60-65kg, with Hayley Bye-Pace in second and Miaya Brownbridge in third.
About 20 wrestlers from the CVWC will be in action again this weekend as they travel to Burnaby for the War on the Floor, one of the biggest tournaments of the year.