When the Wrestling Association of the Yukon was formed last spring, its top priority was to put some participants in the upcoming Arctic Winter Games after a 10-year hiatus.
Although it hoped to enter eight athletes, it has managed to put together a team of six to represent the territory in March.
“We’re excited that it’s actually happening,” said Jacintha Gurash, a coach and secretary/treasurer of the association. “We were going to be happy if we were taking one kid. We’re super excited that we’re taking six, which is a great start. And we hope they have fun with it and they want to come back for more.”
When the team competes in March, it will be a decade since Yukoners last competed on the wrestling mats at the Arctic Games. It last fielded a team in 2002. In fact, wrestling had a much larger presence in the Yukon as a high school sport until high school teacher and wrestling club co-ordinator Bob Sharp retired in 2000.
Until the creation of the wrestling association, the sport’s only competitive incarnation in the territory was the annual Yukon Elementary Wrestling Championship.
“We only have six kids, but it’s six more than we’ve had in 10 years. So it’s pretty exciting,” said Gurash.
Representing the Yukon in the female division are Tanisha Leas in the 65-kilogram weight class, Kelly Munroe in 56-kilos and Kim Cleveland in 52-kilos.
For the males, it’s Antoine Broeckx in 90-kilos, Terry Dick in 68-kilos and Kieran Charron-Ohagan in 62-kilos.
The team’s coaching staff for the Games is Mary Jane Allison and Bruce Ross.
Munroe won a medal at last year’s elementary championship. Munroe, Broeckx, Charron-Ohagan and Leas all have a background in judo while Dick has an aikido background.
Leas also represented the Yukon in archery at the 2011 Canada Winter Games.
The wrestling association has been working with the six athletes for a few months. With each Games jurisdiction restricted to entering one athlete per weight class, the association was relieved there was no overlap between wrestlers, and none of the athletes had to be turned away.
“We’re allowed one athlete per weight-class and we just lucked out that our athletes landed ideally within the weight classes that were available,” said Gurash.
Wrestling at the Games will consist of three installments. There is a team event, an individual event and an Inuit wrestling competition. The wrestling competitions will take place at Yukon College.
“We are very excited that it’s a go,” said Gurash. “The time and effort that went into making it a go, in such a small amount of time, has been a challenge.
“We’re just really excited and we’re hoping this is the beginning of something that’s going to continue to grow so more kids are accessing this type of program once they hit the high school.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org