The Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club’s contingent at this year’s provincial championship will be nearly as large as it was last year, when the club fielded an older group and hosted the meet.
Fifteen CVWC athletes qualified for provincials thanks to an impressive showing at the Island championships on Saltspring Island last weekend.
The top five boys and top six girls in each class qualified for provincials, but the Cowichan wrestlers weren’t just looking to qualify. They were going for the gold.
Six CVWC athletes finished first in their classes, including Max Smith (Queen of Angels) in the 45kg boys, Nolan Mitchell (Claremont) in the 48kg boys, Jimmy Wild (CVOLC) in the 63kg boys, Andrea Morris (Q of A) in the girls 43kg, Rayne Hankins (Cowichan Secondary) in the girls 69kg, and Olive Kiruiro (Frances Kelsey) in the girls 90+kg.
The confident Morris went into Islands expecting to win and pinned her opponent in the final. Head coach Nick Zuback expects her to be seeded second at provincials.
"It went pretty well," she said. Placing second in their respective classes were Daniel Wanner (Q of A) in the boys 51kg, Ryan Kuruvita (Cow High) in the boys 60kg, and Jeevan Sall (Cow High) in the boys 110kg.
"My final match didn’t last long, but I think I did okay," said Kuruvita, a Grade 9 wrestler who faced a Grade 12 opponent in the battle for first. "My goal was to score at least two points on him, but that didn’t happen."
Third-place finishes went to Quinn Smith (Q of A) in the 48kg boys, Kayden Dorma (Kelsey) in the 54kg boys, Haele Ferguson (Cow High) in the 70kg boys, Chelsea Warke (Kelsey) in the 51kg girls, and Molly O’Donnell (Gulf Islands) in the girls 54kg.
Dorma won three matches at Islands, losing just once.
"I had a lot of hard competition in my weight group and a lot of people," said Dorma.
Things could have gone any way for Warke, who was familiar with her competition.
"I had two matches against girls I go back and forth with," she said, vowing to get back at them at the provincial meet.
Rounding out the CVWC qualifiers were Owen Pite (Cow High), who was fourth in the 66kg boys, and Aydan Claus (Kelsey) who was fifth in the boys 74kg.
Provincials go Feb. 27-March 1 in Prince George, and all the wrestlers have different goals. Morris hopes to make the finals, Dorma is aiming to improve on his topsix finish from last year, Warke is shooting for the top four, and Kuruvita wants to go as high as he can.
"Last year at provincials I didn’t do very well," he said. "This year, my goal is to get at least third place. Or second. Or first. I’m pretty pumped up."