Welcome back to the column that talks all things sports here in the North Island.
I’ve had Sports Talk with Tyson on a little hiatus for awhile now, mainly thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic leaving me not too much to write about, but seeing as how things are back in full swing again, I’ll probably take a stab at writing more of these.
So what sport will I be writing about today?
My favourite of course, wrestling.
If you don’t know, I coach high school wrestling at Port Hardy Secondary School for free on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, along with PHSS Athletic Director Paul Cagna. This season has been a lot of fun, we’ve gotten a bunch of new recruits to the sport and have been training hard and travelling down island to finally get to compete in tournaments.
We first hit up the Nanaimo Ice Breaker tournament on Sunday, Jan. 8, with a squad of five eager students who were all ready to lay it on the line to hopefully win some medals.
I can definitely say it was a good day for PHSS. Four out of five of our students won medals, with two bringing home silver and the other two winning bronze.
My highlight of the tournament was getting to see my top student Maven Speck-Labree finally get to compete. Maven and I have been training together since the 2019-2020 season when he was in Grade 8, and it was a bit of an emotional moment for me when I watched him finally get to step on the mat against another school and earn his first pinfall of the season.
I was really proud of him, but I was also proud of all my other students that competed.
Rylan France fought back in the face of adversity to win a bronze medal, Auzton Shaw scored his first takedown in a tournament while earning a bronze medal, Brody Chambers used his aggression and cardio to battle all the way to the gold medal match before ultimately ending up with a silver medal, and James Wamiss-Nelson went out on his shield coming in fourth place in his division, missing out on the bronze medal in his final match.
Most of the team was tired and sore after the tournament, but there was another one scheduled the very next weekend in Campbell River, and I was adament we were going to it.
Out of the five students, only Brody and Auzton committed to competing again in CR. Wrestling back to back weekends is tough, especially when you’re brand new to the sport and not used to the grind, so I was really proud of both of them for not backing down from the challenge.
We had only three students competing in CR on Saturday, Jan. 14 (Carter Chaston came along for the experience as well), but all of them still came home with medals.
Brody again won a silver medal by destroying his first opponent 11-0 and then losing by a technical fall in the tournament final to a dangerous opponent from Vancouver College.
Auzton also showed great skills and determination. He scored his first pinfall of the season and then was matched up against another dangerous kid from Vancouver College.
Auzton showed his toughness by refusing to quit and dragging the match into the second period before finally losing via technical fall (going up 10 points over your opponent), which meant he’d be coming home with a bronze medal.
It was a rough two weeks for Brody and Auzton. Not only did we ramp up our training the week before the Nanaimo tournament, both guys literally had to go right back into the same kind of hard training for the CR tournament during the week leading up to it. That’s essentially two-three weeks of tournament training with no break inbetween, which if you’re not used to the grind of the wrestling season, is a tough thing to do.
Props to both these young men for having the courage and drive to go and compete in back to back tournaments against very tough competition. I’ll be interviewing them later this week about their experience at the tournaments.
I believe the next tournament my team has scheduled is the Island Championships in early February.
One thing I know for sure is, we’ll be ready for it.
Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org