Winning a trophy at the Yukon Elementary Wrestling Championship is no easy feat. It’s the biggest wrestling tournament in Canada for the elementary school age group.
And this year was the biggest yet.
This year’s tournament saw 16 school represented in 1,300 bouts with 525 registered wrestlers at the Canada Games Centre on March 16.
Even though the number of wrestlers dropped to just under 500 due to a flu bug, it was the largest turnout in the championship’s history.
“It boils down to, this is something kids can do that is very natural … but they can’t do it anywhere else but in this venue,” said tournament organizer and Holy Family coach Ted Hupe. “It’s a universal sport. Anyone can do it, whether you’re 19 kilograms or 100 kilograms. And the cost is minimal. You’re wrestling in bare feet, shorts and a T-shirt.”
This year’s championships had something new and some deja vu.
Christ the King Elementary repeated in the overall aggregate division with the most points while Yukon Montessori School, competing in just its second championships, took the top spot in the best performing category.
“It was a very good day. All our wrestlers were extremely excited to be there and be competing and their hard work throughout the season paid off for another championship for our school,” said Christ the King coach Ron Billingsley. “Everyone worked really hard through the season. Our goal was getting kids out, getting them active and having fun with their friends.”
Christ the King defended their title from last year with 16 gold, 16 silver and 25 bronze for 57 medals in total.
The Whitehorse school entered 98 wrestlers, up from 69 last year, for the school’s largest team to date.
“I think our win last year really spurred on our sign-up for this year,” said Billingsley.
“We had about two weeks of practice before spring break and we were practising every lunch hour for Grades 2 and 3,” he added. “And we were practising Mondays through Thursdays after school for Grades 4 to 7.”
Whitehorse’s Holy Family placed second overall with 12 gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze for 34 medals. Holy Family, who won the division every year between 2007 and 2012, entered 50 wrestlers.
Whitehorse’s Elijah Smith claimed third with six gold, 11 silver and five bronze for 22 medals between 42 wrestlers.
Golden Horn came fourth and Ecole Emilie Tremblay fifth.
Whitehorse’s Yukon Montessori School, nicknamed the “Montessori Mafia,”
starts training early. That helped the school win the best performing trophy, which is given to the school with the greatest points-to-wrestlers ratio.
“We had another coach helping us, David Eikelboom, he’s a wrestler himself, and he volunteered to work with us from January through to March break and a little after,” said Montessori coach Dominic Bradford. “He taught us all sorts of things.”
Last week was just the school’s second time competing at the championship, which is easily explained by the fact the school is in its second year of operation.
The school of 26 students had 16 compete, accumulating eight gold, three silver and two bronze.
“It’s a good sport for our school because we don’t actually have a gym,” said Bradford. “We can move into the Canada Games Centre, use their facilities, and we don’t need a whole lot to do the sport.
“Several children managed to score five wins out of their five matches,” he added. “Everyone managed to score a win except one or two people. But they all contributed one or two points.”
Destruction Bay’s Kluane Lake School claimed second with four gold, one silver and two bronze won by its eight wrestlers.
Jack Hulland Elementary’s 24 wrestlers won eight gold, seven silver and three bronze to take third in the best performing division.
Hidden Valley placed fourth ahead of Teslin School in fifth.
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