Antonio Iannidinardo made history with a pair of gold medals as the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club brought home an impressive haul of hardware from the 2022 Canadian Wrestling Championships last weekend.
Iannidinardo won gold in the U15 boys 68kg class in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines at the national championships hosted by the Tsuu’tina Nation outside Calgary.
“That was great for him,” CVWC head coach Nick Zuback commented. “And a first for the club to win two medals.”
The main difference between the two disciplines is that attacks below the waist are forbidden in Greco-Roman wrestling. That’s something the Cowichan wrestlers have to get used to at nationals, the only time all year that they engage in Greco-Roman.
“It’s strictly freestyle throughout the whole year,” Zuback said. “This is the only time we see Greco wrestling at a tournament. They are so used to taking leg shots, but after the first match they get the hang of things.”
This was the first national championship since 2019, so it was a learning process for almost all of the Cowichan wrestlers.
“We weren’t sure what to expect,” Zuback acknowledged. “But the kids trained really hard, and it showed.”
Emma Greenwood brought home silver medals in both disciplines in the U15 girls 66kg weight classes. She lost only two matches over the course of the tournament, both to Cassidy Pace, a former CVWC athlete who now trains with Takedown Academy.
“I like that Emma does give it her all and leave it all on the mat,” Zuback said. “There is a lot of fight in her.”
Carter Zuback claimed bronze in U17 boys 51kg freestyle and silver in Greco-Roman. He lost just one match in each tournament in a very large and competitive weight class.
“He was pretty stoked,” coach Zuback said. “The first thing he told me was that he can’t wait to start training again.”
Loryn Roberts also took bronze in freestyle and silver in Greco-Roman in the U17 girls 65kg division. Roberts lost only one match in each discipline, both to the same girl.
“She scored points on her in both matches,” Zuback noted. “She was so close to being the top girl in the country.”
Darren Doherty took bronze in the U17 boys 71kg freestyle competition, but missed the Greco-Roman competition with an illness. His only loss came in his opening match, putting him on the back side of the bracket.
“He didn’t let it bother him,” Zuback said. “He took it one match at a time and got to the bronze match and won it.”
Sedona Bond similarly won bronze in freestyle — in the U15 girls 62kg category — then missed the Greco-Roman portion with a knee injury. The Grade 8 student from Queen Margaret’s School was competing in her first nationals in a tough weight class.
“She still has four more years to work and train and maybe bring home gold,” Zuback pointed out.
Aiden Dyer-Price took fifth in the U19 boys 80kg class in Greco-Roman, and Ross Meiner took sixth in the U17 boys 60kg in Greco-Roman.
“He’s always been a tough, tough kid,” Zuback said of Dyer-Price, who was competing in his last meet with the CVWC. “His weight class was probably the toughest in the tournament. For Aiden to come fifth in Greco and win the final match of his high school career, we were all super-stoked for him.”
Phoenix Skailes, another Grade 12 wrestler in her last meet, had to bow out with an injury, as did Georgia Bond.
“It’s tough, but it does happen,” Zuback said. “The kids will bounce back.”
The club as a whole finished eighth out of 73 that sent athletes to nationals. With the exception of Dyer-Price and Skailes, the rest of the Cowichan contingent is eligible to return next year.
“We have some young wrestlers coming up who will compete in U15 next year, and it would be nice to improve on our eighth-place finish,” Zuback said.
Zuback is grateful to the community for its support with the team fundraisers, and to Queen Margaret’s School and the families of the athletes who helped get them to nationals.
“It was amazing to see people and groups come together to make this possible for the kids,” he said.