A school picked up its fourth straight banner and another its first ever at the Yukon Wrestling Championships on Wednesday at the Canada Games Centre.
Whitehorse’s Christ the King Elementary won the overall title a fourth year in a row while Whitehorse’s Selkirk Elementary won the best performing title at the event that saw 428 wrestlers, representing 12 Yukon schools, compete in about 1,150 matches.
“We’re thinking we’re the largest wrestling team in Canada. No exact stats on that, but we’re pretty sure. It’s the largest wrestling tournament and we bring the largest team here and we’re thinking we could be the largest wrestling team in Canada,” said Christ the King coach Ron Billingsley. “Almost a third of our school is in wrestling. It’s a big deal at our school.”
“So many kids are involved in it, they invite their friends to come. They want to hang out with their friends and participate together,” he added. “It’s just a good event for our school. All the kids get together and they have fun at it and that’s why it’s so big.”
Christ the King pinned its fourth straight title with 21 gold, 16 silver and 15 bronze.
Having the largest team with 90 competitors definitely helps, but having an experienced team is also an advantage.
“I think this is the first year our Grade 7s have been wrestling since Grade 2,” said Billingsley. “We’ve had the program in place for so long now the ones that started in Grade 2 are now in Grade 7. So they’re very experienced and obviously that helps us with our success.”
Holy Family Elementary placed second overall with six gold, 12 silver and eight bronze. It was the fourth year in a row the Whitehorse school placed second, but it has its fair share of banners having won the overall title every year between 2007 and 2012.
Whitehorse’s Elijah Smith Elementary came in third with six gold, seven silver and 12 bronze. Elijah Smith is one of just a few schools to have placed in both categories, taking third overall in 2014 and second in best performing in 2013.
Selkirk Elementary’s win in best performing – given to the team with the greatest points-to-wrestlers ratio – didn’t come without a lot of hard work, said the team’s coaches.
“It’s a pretty big deal, we’re pretty excited about it,” said Selkirk coach Brian Larnder. “We’ve been working hard for two months.”
“We have practices twice a week and the kids have to come to every single one,” said assistant coach Nicole Rusnak. “We had a really high turnout for our school. We brought 18 students here today and some of our students medaled, some of them didn’t, but everyone obviously did a very god job today.”
Selkirk won best performing – a division that often favours smaller teams – with a third of its 18 wrestlers bagging hardware. The team claimed five bronze and one silver.
“Foster (Brassard) won a silver medal, but it was a very tough competition with that group,” said Larnder. “He did really well for us.
“We had a bit of a turnover with our group, so some of our older wrestlers didn’t come back this year. We had a lot of rookies on the squad and they really came through for us.”
“We found a lot of our younger students were wrestling students who are much older than them because it’s all based on their weight,” said Rusnak. “So the adversity our students faced was they were younger and had less experience than some of the other wrestlers. So we’re just very proud of what they were able to do, especially being fairly new to the sport.”
Hidden Valley, which won the trophy in 2012, placed second with 13 medals. Yukon Montessori School placed third, down from a second place finish last year and first place in 2014, with 15 medals on Wednesday.
“This year’s tournament was successful again in thanks to the Holy Family school for helping us out, particularly Tirza Spencer and Lional Colaci. Without them this tournament would not have been successful,” said Marc Senecal, president of the Yukon Schools Athletic Association. “Another huge thank you to Rob Langmaid, who was our head official, and big thank yous to all the parent volunteers, wranglers and referees.”
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