High school wrestling made a triumphant return to Port Hardy Secondary School (PHSS) after a prolonged absence.
North Island Gazette Editor Tyson Whitney, along with teacher sponsor Mike Cleary, stepped up to the plate and volunteered to coach the sport this season. PHSS was actually the place Whitney had first learned to wrestle back when he was a teenager.
“It was pretty surreal to go back to my old high school and coach wrestling,” said Whitney when asked about the experience. “I wasn’t really sure how many students would be dedicated enough to show up twice a week due to the season running at the same time as minor hockey.”
Despite the two sports having clashing schedules, Whitney noted he was pleased to see anywhere from three to eight kids on the mats ready to learn every Monday and Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.
“Classes were well attended, and the students really enjoyed learning the techniques and then getting to wrestle matches,” Whitney said, adding while they weren’t able to go down island and compete this season due to scheduling issues, they will hopefully be more than ready to test their skills on the road during the upcoming 2020-2021 season.
“The students will have to make the transition from folkstyle rules (a style of high school and college wrestling that is hugely popular in the United States) to freestyle rules if they want to compete,” added Whitney. “It will be a bit of a change for them, but I personally think folkstyle wrestling provides a better base to start with than freestyle, which has a more complicated ruleset and doesn’t really teach how to control your opponent as much as folkstyle does.”
At the end of the season, three PHSS students logged enough hours on the mats to be awarded trophies.
Dawson Lamothe earned the “Most Pins” award after posting an unofficial 35-2 record against all opponents regardless of weight class, winning every match by pinfall.
Maven Speck earned the “Most Dedicated” award for not missing one class all season, while also pushing for extra classes to be held on Fridays.
Grant Joseph earned the “Pound for Pound” award due to being in the lightest weight class yet still wrestling everyone regardless of size.
When asked what he thought about wrestling, Joseph said he didn’t think he’d like it at first. “I’m a small guy, but I think I like it more than hockey. I like the fact that it’s just me, and if I win, it’s my win.”
He added he enjoyed learning takedowns and escapes, and that his favourite moment from the season was when Lamothe had a challenge match against Sam Munn. “It was a really good match, they both played a good game,” he said.
The match went back and forth late into the third period before Munn finally managed to score a pinfall.
As for Lamothe, he said his favourite part of the season was “coming out and having a good time” and that his favourite technique he learned was the cradle (a pin where you fold your opponent up into a ball by hooking a leg).
Speck said the classes were fun and he’s looking forward to the season starting up again, and that he’s planning to hit the gym hard in the off season to be ready.
Both Lamothe and Speck thanked Cleary for volunteering his time to sponsor the program.