Team size doesn’t matter in wrestling.
At the Yukon Elementary Wrestling Championship the Best Performing Team award was available to any team, large or small.
Enter Ross River School.
With just four athletes, Ross River team grabbed the award with strong results at the Canada Games Centre on Wednesday.
Boosting Ross River to first, ahead of Dawson’s Robert Service School in second and Jack Hulland in third, was a bronze finish by James Atkinson in the 55-kilogram class, a fourth-place outcome for Carvin Dick in the 40-kilo and a sixth by Jared Nukon in the 33-kilo.
However, sealing the deal for the school was Grade 6 athlete Jack Ladue, 12, going undefeated in the 37-kilo class for gold.
“He uses his brain, not just his strength,” said Ross River coach Brian Larnder. “He’s always watching the scores, checking out the other wrestlers; he watches all the matches and figures out the weaknesses of other wrestlers and uses them against them. He’s one of the only ones who does that.”
Not only is it the third consecutive year Ladue has won gold at the championships, he’s never lost a match, going 15-0 over his last three appearances.
“Jack is our secret weapon – he’s never lost a match,” said Larnder. “We start right after Christmas when we get back from Christmas, we wrestle every week and we do some fitness, teach them the basic moves and strategy. We have a really good coaching staff.”
Though Ladue approaches each match with a tailor-made strategy in place for each opponent, he makes it sound a lot less complicated.
“I don’t know, I just wrestle,” said Ladue.
Ladue’s was not the only eyebrow-raising performance of this year’s championship.
Twenty girls came home from the meet with gold medals, but only one was captured in a boys’ division.
Hidden Valley School’s Emily Mervyn, 12, not only competed up three weight classes in the 44-kilo division, she was the only girl to compete in a boys’ division, going undefeated en route to gold.
“I always wrestle with my brothers,” said Mervyn. “It was (weird) but it was good still.
“It was different how they wrestle. Girls do it more lightly, the boys really go at it.”
Elijah Smith School’s Rastus Maxfield had good reason to be suspicious about why his opponents looked so much larger than himself. He was in the wrong weight class.
Giving his weight in pounds instead of kilos caused the mix-up, pitting little 40-pound Maxfield against 40-kilo wrestlers.
“I was watching one match, and I turned around to watch his match and he’s wrestling a kid practically my size,” said Elijah Smith coach Mary Alice. “Regardless, Rastus never gave up, he went through the whole wrestling match. At one point he had the other kids in a front-head-and-arm and was giving it his all – it almost looked like he was going to pin the kid until he stood up, picked Rastus up and put him down.
“It was a really good match and I’m just happy Rastus was able to pull through it all.”
When the mistake was discovered, Maxfield proved he all but certainly would have won a medal in a series of exhibition matches, defeating all five of the opponents he would have faced had he been in the correct class. For this achievement, Maxfield was given an honourary gold medal.
“He would have medalled for sure,” said organizer and Holy Family coach Ted Hupe.
With the largest team at the championship, Holy Family was a shoe-in for the Total Points team event prize, winning it for the fifth straight year.
“We have a big team. We have a lot of kids and teachers at the school that are dedicated to wrestling,” said Hupe. “We brought 76 kids this year, which is down a little bit, but I’m sure we’ll be back up to 100 where we normally are.”
In second for Total Points was Ecole Emilie Tremblay followed by Whitehorse Elementary School.
With 375 registered wrestlers, the championship had about 25 fewer wrestlers than last year’s 400, which was a participation record for the event.
Absent from this year’s meet was Christ the King Elementary. Due to Hockey Day in Canada, hosted by Whitehorse in February, the basketball season had to be extended, forcing a truncation of the wrestling season, leaving too little turnaround time to prepare a team.
“When you have a school with only one coach, or that has a small cadre of coaches, they can’t adjust to the wrestling season,” said Hupe. “They couldn’t put together a team in that short time frame.”
Although numbers were a little smaller than last year, the continuing success of the tournament over the recent years may lead to – or should lead to – the reinstallation of high school level competition, said Hupe.
“With all the schools combined, we have 500 kids wrestling (in the Yukon), which is 20 per cent of the schools in the territory,” said Hupe. “Our ultimate goal is to get a high school program back in place. We will never have a Yukon team at the Arctic Winter Games or the Canada Games, unless we build a high school program.
“Today I had people come to me and say, It’s time.”
Girls gold medal winners
22kg Eugenie Chameval (HVE)
23kg Iliana Stehelin (HVE)
24kg Mackenzie Gill (ESE)
27kg Ekko Trociuk (ESE)
28kg Whiteney Troyer (HFE)
29kg Reena Coyne (WES)
30kg Line Jensen (HVE)
32kg Erica Couch (HFE)
33kg Madison Dorion (EET)
34kg Mia Greenough (JHE)
35kg Lara Herry-Saint Onge (EET)
37kg Mia Kremer (HFE)
39kg Alice Frost (TAK)
40kg Sarah Ott (HFE)
41kg Shae Garrett-Charlie (ESE)
43kg Mikaela Kruse (GHE)
46kg Amy Roberts (HFE)
50kg Zoey Krause (HFE)
54kg Jesse Hassett (ESE)
Boys gold medal winners
21kg Keegan Bevilacqua (WES)
22kg Cole Wilkie-Hobus (WES)
23kg Cole McCaulloch (WES)
24kg Errol Ekholm (WES)
25kg Nadaya Johnson (EET)
26kg Sasha Masson (EET)
27kg Tiernon Dear (HFE)
28kg Jake Adams (WES)
29kg Jared McCaulloch (WES)
29kg Romeo Champagne (EET)
30kg Kyle Stockley (HFE)
30kg Mathew McBride (GHE)
31kg Benjamin Raffer (HFE)
31kg Wyatt Petersen (JHE)
32kg Seth Carey (HVE)
33kg Noah Falle (HVE)
33kg Oscar Sawicki (HFE)
34kg Bryce Anderson (HVE)
34kg Kyron Crosby (WES)
35kg Alex Coyne (HFE)
36kg Evan Dinn (HVE)
37kg Jack Ladue (RRS)
37kg Marek Boulerice (EET)
38kg Brandon Rondeay Broghagen (EET)
40kg Romney Duncan (HVE)
41kg Stanley Cooley (EET)
42kg Skyler Byant (ESE)
43kg Jarrett Petersen (JHE)
44kg Emily Mervyn (HVE)
46kg David Ford (HFE)
47kg Kailem Letto
48kg James Limoges (TAK)
49kg Theron Blythe (HFE)
53kg Angus Newell (HFE)
55kg Rashaun Svens (TAK)
61kg Tim Schirmer (GHE)
68kg Jonathon Grant-Blanchard (HFE)
75kg Logan O’Shea (TAK)
86kg Dillon Grennough (JHE)
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com