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Monday, April 06, 2009

Alberni Wrestling at National Championships, Vipers lead 2-0 heading home

Hello and HAPPY MONDAY. Another successful weekend for Alberni Wrestling, this time at the National Championships. Congrats to all the athletes, coaches, and everyone involved with Alberni Wrestling! here

Alberni Wrestlers Top The National Stage Again

Port Alberni, Alberni District Secondary and the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club were well represented by six athletes who competed at the National Cadet/Juvenile Wrestling Championships in Fredericton New Brunswick over the weekend. The highly respected Alberni Wrestling program had three medalists and four athletes place in the top six to once again make its presence felt on the national scene.

The Alberni contingent was led by the young guns this year. Grade 10 wrestler Isaiah Taylor was simply outstanding winning the gold medal and a National title in the Cadet (15 & 16 year olds) Boys Division at 76 kilograms. Taylor looked sharp all weekend long. In the semi final he had a very tough opponent from Abbotsford to get by and after a great battle Taylor pinned him to reach the final. He dominated his Ontario opponent in the final beating him by technical superiority in two straight rounds.

When asked about Taylor’s win Alberni Coach James Messenger had this to say, “It was obviously great to see Isaiah win the title of National Champion. He is incredibly strong especially when you consider he is only in Grade 10. He has really matured as a competitor this season. His mat awareness and match strategy has really developed. He has obviously benefited from wrestling with the likes of Travis Cross, Ivan Diaconu and Michael Cappus on a regular basis. I am excited about the fact that Isaiah still has two years of high school wrestling left.”

Narrowly missing a gold medal herself grade 9 wrestler Daley Forbes won the silver medal in the 70 kilogram Cadet Girls Division. Forbes had a very strong tournament and showed a lot of determination just to wrestle let alone win the silver medal. Forbes sustained a serious foot injury at the Provincial Championships last month and as her condition failed to get better Forbes was forced to stop training. For the past two weeks she had to walk around on crutches to keep weight off her foot. With her doctor’s and physiotherapist’s clearance Forbes decided to push through the pain and compete. Her only loss all weekend came in a close three round battle with the provincial champion from Saskatchewan.

“We are really impressed with how Daley competed this weekend. To win the silver medal as a Grade 9 especially when having to push through the pain in her foot, is a great accomplishment. I respect the grit and focus she showed.” commented Coach Messenger.

Alberni’s third medal performance came from the team’s grade twelve standout Michael Cappus. Cappus claimed a bronze medal in the Juvenile (17 & 18 year old) Boys 69 kilogram division. Competing in one of the toughest weight classes of the tournament Cappus’ only loss was a hard fought 2-2, 2-2 decision in the semi finals to a returning National medalist from Ontario. Cappus turned heads with the way he came back on the consolation side especially in the Bronze final where he threw and pinned his opponent.

“Michael was disappointed he was not in the final. However, he did not let that affect his focus. He came back and demonstrated his dynamic scoring ability by making great leg attacks and throws in his two final matches. As a Grade Twelve, he is one of the top recruits in the country right now. I know Simon Fraser University is very excited about the commitment he has made to join their team next year,” said Messenger.

Rounding out their top six finishers was Grade 11 wrestler Savannah Toth. Savannah placed fifth in the 65 kilogram Juvenile Girls division. Toth lost two tough 3 round matches which unfortunately knocked her out of medal contention. “Savannah showed mental toughness not to let the disappointment of her losses get the better of her” said Messenger, “ I am really pleased that she battled through and am confident that this experience is going to help her next season. She is only a first year Juvenile so she gets another crack at a medal.”

Wrestlers Cullen Hines and Kyle Plaunt unfortunately did not manage to finish in the top 6 but both wrestlers recorded wins in their competitive weight classes. For Grade 9 student Hines, the National Championships is an important stop along his path to develop into one of BC’s top High School wrestlers. “Cullen is tremendously strong and has worked hard to develop the physical side of his wrestling. Competing at the Nationals will help him continue to develop the strategy and mental focus needed to be a top high school wrestler next year,” commented Coach Messenger.

For grade twelve wrestler Plaunt the tournament marked the end of his high school wrestling career. “Kyle wrestled well but at the national level he is small for the 58 kg weight class. Cutting to the lower weight just wasn’t an option,” commented Messenger. “Right now Kyle is considering his options for next year. We are excited about the fact that he is considering wrestling for North Island College and continuing his education and his wrestling.”

On receiving the news of the latest achievements for Alberni Wrestlers at the National level program Director Tom McEvay had this to say, “We are proud of all of our athletes and our coaches. We are very fortunate to have an amazing group of young people in this community who given the right opportunity will excel in many different areas. We are also blessed with incredible volunteers who give so much of themselves to help these young people follow their dreams. Our wrestling program is but one example of this process that occurs over and over again in Port Alberni.”

McEvay’s words have had great examples from Alberni wrestlers this year. The accomplishments of Olympian Travis Cross are well documented and most people are aware of alumni Ashlea McManus’s achievements on the National and International stage. Recently alumni Isaac Wing won the Canadian Intercollegiate title for Simon Fraser University.

The accolades continue for Alberni wrestlers and alumni. This past year local wrestlers once again excelled at the High School Provincials, the BC Summer Games and the North American Indigenous Games. Alberni coaches have been named to coach BC and National teams and alumni are coaching in many parts of BC. Alumni Patrick McEvay is now one of the top young wrestling officials in the country and drawmaster Richelle McKenzie was recently upgraded to one of the highest rankings in Canada. The list goes on for what is widely considered one of the best developmental wrestling programs in Canada if not the world.

The National Championships marks the official end of the high school and club wrestling season. The wrestlers will enjoy some down time before they gear up for their summer fundraising and camp activities. The wrestlers who travelled to the National Championships would like to thank all the coaches and sponsors who helped them get there. Special mention to School District 70 who supported coach James Messenger as one of Team BC’s National Team coaches.

All Alberni Valley wrestlers will be gathering at their Annual Wrestling Awards Night April 29th at Echo Center at 7 pm. The night will provide the club and their associated school programs with an opportunity to recognize its athletes, coaches, and volunteers for their achievements over the past year. The night is open to anyone who wants to support a very proud program that is a shining examples of their motto … “Let the Tradition Continue.”

Thanks to Les Toth for the pictures!

The Vernon Vipers lead the Fred Page Cup Series 2 games to 0 after back to back shut out victories by scores of 4-0 and 3-0 Friday and Saturday in Powell River. Are the Vipers that good, are the Kings that average, are the Kings worn out? Just bad "puck luck"? Should be interesting to see what happens in the pivotal game 3. Not a nice position for the Kings to be in, down 0-2 heading to Vernon.

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