Members of the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club had the chance to test themselves against most of the top wrestlers in the province last week and the results were remarkable.
The club sent a strong contingent to the War on the Floor at Pinetree Secondary in Coquitlam, and several of the wrestlers set themselves up as provincial contenders.
The novices tournament, open to first- and second-year wrestlers ran on Thursday, with seven entries from the Cowichan club.
“It was huge,” CVWC head coach Nick Zuback said. “There were wrestlers there from the entire province. It looks good for the future.”
Zuback’s club collected three first-place finishes as Queen of Angels’ Hayley Bye-Pace won the girls 60kg class, Reynolds’ Khaya MacKillop topped the girls 64kg class, and Talon Hird, also from Q of A, took the boys 45kg class.
Owen Mackenzie (Q of A) was second in the boys 51kg division, and the club had two fifth-place results: Christopher Gaw (Frances Kelsey) in the boys 48kg class and Jacob McCluskey (Q of A) in the boys 54kg class.
Most of the novice wrestlers also took part in the elite competition on Friday, where the CVWC took on the best of the province in grades 8-12.
Hird was back in action on Friday and finished a close second, again in the 45kg class. The title came down to Hird and last year’s provincial champion. Hird gave the champ a run, going down 4-0, but coming back and leading 8-6 before eventually succumbing to the older competitor.
“It was only in the last few seconds that [Hird’s opponent] was able to come back,” Zuback continued. “It was great to see for Talon. It should give him confidence that he can compete against the best in the province.”
Zuback compared Hird to former CVWC wrestler Nolan Mitchell, who won four provincial titles, and took third place in B.C. as an eighth grader.
“He’s maybe even a step ahead of where Nolan was at that age.”
Defending national champion Hannah Tuplin of Chemainus beat an old rival for first place in the 54kg class.
“It was a nailbiter,” Zuback recalled. “She was wrestling a girl from Coast Wrestling, a huge club on the Mainland, the same girl she has battled year after year. It had to go to an overtime round, and she pulled it off.”
In the girls 51kg class, Andrea Morris of Cowichan Secondary finished second, and Stephanie Mould of Q of A placed fourth, although they didn’t end up wrestling each other. Mould came very close to joining Morris on the podium.
“It came down to the last two points, or she could have been third as well,” Zuback said.
MacKillop finished third in the girls 64kg class, and Rayne Hankins (CVOLC) had the same position in the girls 75kg class. Antonio Diaz (Cow High), Owen Mackenzie (Q of A) and Kayden Dorma (Kelsey) all finished sixth in their respective classes, the boys 48kg, 51kg and 60kg.
The War on the Floor gives all the wrestlers an idea of what it will take to contend at the provincial meet.
“It tells them where they are sitting in B.C. with provincials in two months,” Zuback said. “They can take back to the practice room what is working and what they need to work on.”
The CVWC will host its annual camp on Jan. 2 and 3. It’s open to everyone, from beginners to elite wrestlers. To learn more, contact Zuback at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-815-0959.