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Port Hardy Secondary School wrestler goes to battle at provincials

Port Hardy Secondary School Grade 12 student Sheldon Frank made the lengthy trip to Vancouver to compete at the BCSS Provincial Wrestling Championships, which was held at the PNE Forum on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24.

Frank’s first match of the day was early in the morning on Friday against Murdoch Jackson, one of Nechako Valley’s (Vanderhoof) top ranked wrestlers.

Frank came out aggressive to start the match. While he was busy looking for takedowns, Jackson managed to get him down and score the first two points of the match. Frank quickly reversed him and scored one point of his own, but Jackson kept attacking and almost pinned Frank, who managed to battle out of the position.

After a quick stoppage in action due to blood coming from Frank’s nose, they restarted on the feet and this time it was Frank who scored a two-point takedown to cut the lead to 4-3. From there, Frank went for a front headlock roll into a pin, but Jackson ended up landing on top of him and locked up a farside cradle. Frank managed to fight out of it, but it was too late as the ref had already called it a pin.

Head coach Paul Cagna threw the challenge block, but ultimately it was deemed a pinfall victory for Jackson.

“I feel like I under performed,” said Frank about the match. “I wasn’t thinking, and I lost because I put myself in bad positions.”

With the loss to Jackson, Frank was moved into the consolation bracket, where he’d once again have to run the gauntlet in order to qualify for the bronze medal match. First up was a rematch against Eli Ergas from Collingwood School, who had previously beaten Frank 14-4 at the Port Alberni Invitational.

Both wrestlers came out aggressive to start, but Ergas scored first with a fireman’s carry takedown to make it 2-0. Frank’s shoelace came untied at that point, and the ref penalized him for it by giving Ergas one point. Ergas then got another takedown and quickly went into a leg lace roll afterwards to make it 7-0. Ergas wasn’t done yet, as he scored another takedown and finished the match off with a bodylock roll to win with an 11-0 technical fall.

With his second loss of the day, Frank’s run at provincials officially came to an end.

“I was excited for the rematch,” said Frank about getting to wrestle Ergas again.

He noted the first time they had faced each other in Port Alberni they were both tired as it was their fourth match of the day.

“He came out strong this time, he’s got the same style as me, and I didn’t really practice to face someone with the same style.”

Frank added it was unfortunate that he lost, because Ergas ended up having to forfeit his next match due to injury.

When asked to comment on Frank’s performance over the weekend, Cagna said he was pleased with his student’s efforts.

“We were in a challenging bracket,” he said, pointing out that he thought it was fair being matched up against Jackson, as Frank had been training every day for two weeks leading up to the tournament.

“Wrestling is like a chess match, you either capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes, or you make a mistake and you get pinned,” he said. “In this instance, we were wrestling well, we scored some points, and Sheldon went for his trademark move, but somehow Jackson ended up on top and it put us in a bad position.”

As for the rematch against Ergas, Cagna said he was happy that Frank was able to face him again.

“We absolutely wanted it, we were in it last time and ended up losing 14-4 in the second period, and unfortunately this time it was the same thing - these guys went at it and they have very similar games. Again, there were a few mistakes made and Ergas capitalized on them, which ended our run to the bronze medal match.”

All told, Cagna said he was pleased with not just Frank’s efforts, but the entire team’s all season.

“I have nothing but positive memories for this entire season,” he said. “When it comes to provincials, we showed up and we showed that we’re not just there to take in the festivities, we’re there to compete and give an effort. 63 kg is a shark tank, the division has a lot of quality wrestlers that are well known, not just on the island but also the lower mainland and the interior.”

“It was really intense,” said Frank about the training camp for provincials. “It felt great to train hard and the extra Saturday practices were probably my favourite.”

He thanked two of his teammates who helped him train all season, Anthony Blacha and Auzton Shaw.

“Anthony is a great training partner, he just lets me work and when I figure things out on him it makes it easier for me during my matches,” said Frank. “Auzton is good too, he’s my size, heavier than Anthony, and he’s very defensive. Working with him on the ground, it just helps my game a lot. I want to thank them both for helping me train.”

Frank then thanked Cagna for doing all of the driving this season, “and Tyson for teaching me everything I know and for participating in the next tournament with me.”

“I’m really proud of Sheldon for all of his hard work this season, he came through clutch for us and qualified for provincials, just like I’d promised him he would back in December,” said assistant coach Tyson Whitney.

Frank is planning to drop down to 60 kg for the final tournament of the season at Queen Margaret’s School in March.

Tyson Whitney

About the Author: Tyson Whitney

I have been working in the community newspaper business for nearly a decade, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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