Wrestlers ready for Islands after big showing in Alberni

Cowichan Valley wrestlers showed they are peaking at the right time.

Cowichan Valley wrestlers showed they are peaking at the right time when they put up some fantastic results, including four gold medals, at the Alberni Invitational last weekend, the final meet of the schedule before the Island championships.

Twenty-two wrestlers representing the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club and area schools took part in the meet, among about 400 from across Vancouver Island and the Mainland.

Leading the way were Talon Hird, Stephanie Mould and Hayley Bye-Pace of Queen of Angels School and Miaya Brownbridge of Cowichan Secondary, who finished first in their respective classes.

Hird placed first in the cadet boys (Grade 9-10) 45kg class, although he could have wrestled in the school boys (Grade 6-8) level.

“His match was filmed and shown on Alberni Shaw (TV), because he wrestled their top wrestler,” CVWC head coach Nick Zuback said. “He decimated him. Going into Islands, he’s peaking at the right time.”

Mould, coming off being picked as the most outstanding wrestler at Western Canadian Age Class Championships two weeks earlier, won the cadet girls 51kg class, and Bye-Pace won the school girls 57-59kg class. Brownbridge earned her first No.1 finish of the season in the school girls 51-54kg class.

“She had one of her best tournaments,” Zuback said of Brownbridge. “She’s definitely one to watch in the next few years, too.”

Valley wrestlers also brought 10 second-place finishes, including Lincoln Rae (Duncan Christian) in the juvenile male 70kg class, Andrea Morrison (Cowichan Secondary) in the juvenile female 51kg, Hannah Tuplin (Chemainus Secondary) in the juvenile female 54kg, Chaas Mearns (Lake Cowichan) in the school boys 29-33kg, William Rithaler (Q of A) in the school boys 40-42kg, Sukhman Sahota (Q of A) in the school boys 43-45kg, Frazer Wilmot (Q of A) in the school boys 45-47kg, Aidan Dyer-Price (Drinkwater) in the school boys 52-54kg, Owen McKenzie (Q of A) in the school boys 48-51kg, and Charlie Roberts (Q of A) in the school girls 33-37kg.

Tuplin, who won the national cadet championship in her weight class last year, wrestled the defending juvenile champion in the final, and battled to the finish with the score at 8-3 as time expired.

“It was a good finish,” Zuback said. “Every time she wrestles, she’s getting better and better.”

Wilmot persevered despite being really ill on the weekend.

“He was hacking up a lung,” Zuback said. “He was almost a last-minute scratch, but he pushed through and really represented Q of A and the Cowichan club and our no-quit attitude.”

Third place finishes went to Kayden Dorma (Frances Kelsey) in the juvenile male 60kg, Rayne Hankins (CVOLC), in the juvenile female 75kg, Paul Belcourt (Q of A) in the school boys 35-38kg, Ashton Combdon (Q of A) in the school boys 42-45kg, Christopher Gaw (Kelsey) in the school boys 48kg, and Jacob McClusky (Q of A) in the school boys 56-57kg.

Aidan Tuplin (Duncan Christian) placed fourth in the cadet boys 60kg class, and Anthony Anderson (Wellington) finished sixth in the juvenile male 57kg class.

Q of A finished third in the school girls team standings and fourth in the school boys standings, and was close to finishing even higher.

“For the boys, if we had one more wrestler wrestling, we probably could have placed second,” Zuback said.

The wrestlers will head to Islands this weekend on Saltspring Island. Zuback is hoping to qualify 25 wrestlers for provincials. For the boys, that means finishing in the top five in their classes, or top six for the girls.

“I’m pretty confident most of our wrestlers will qualify just from the work ethic the team has been putting in,” Zuback said.