School age wrestlers across the region tangled and tussled each other to the mats at Nechako Valley Secondary (NVSS) gym, as the school played host to the high school North Zone Championships February 10-11.
The tournament is small but good, said NVSS Grade 12 competitor, Chris Wilson.
He had just pinned an opponent and that qualified him for the upcoming provincial meet that will take place in Penticton this year. He expects wrestling will be at the high skill level he encountered at past provincials.
“B.C. has the toughest competition in Canada,” Wilson said, “if you can make the top three in the province, you can likely get into the top six in Canada.”
Wilson likes wrestling because it’s a one-on-one battle.
“Whether you win or lose, it’s the ultimate physical and mental endurance test,” Wilson said.
He also likes getting to know a number of other athletes.
“I’ve made lots of friends and it’s a great way to meet people,” he observed.
Wilson said NVSS usually sends around five to seven people to the provincials but this year, NVSS had 14 wrestlers qualify. Wilson said he placed eighth at last year’s provincials,
“But I’m hoping to get into the top four this time,” he expressed.
Jonah Reinke, who has been wrestling for four years, said he’s gained a bunch of wrestling knowledge through competing at the high school level.
“What you learn you can spread to others coming up,” he said.
While wrestling demands a lot, it also gives a lot back, he added.
“You learn endurance, pain tolerance, and sometimes you step off the mat superior,” he said with enthusiasm.
This year at the NVSS-hosted zone meet there was quite a bit of competition, Reinke noticed. He was hoping to qualify for the provincials as well, noting he has been to out-of-town competitions before.
“I went to a tournament in Edmonton and placed fourth in my weight class,” Reinke said.
He likes that going to tournaments gives wrestlers a mix of new competition as students get older and bigger.
“It’s fun that every year I meet different people from the five schools in our zone,” he noted.
Closer to home, he said it’s a lot of fun to help younger wrestlers, some of whom were sparring at the NVSS meet on Friday. The majority of the primary-age wrestlers came from schools around Vanderhoof where the program has been going for some time, but there were far-flung athletes visiting, said NVSS wrestling coach, Travis Himmelright.
“The buzz of the elementary school kids was something we liked,” the coach said, “some travelled from Kitwanga and other outlying areas.”
Himmelright noted that this was the first time some primary school athletes and their parents got a glimpse of high school level matches.
The official count showed NVSS won zones for boys out of 12 boy teams and girls took second out of eight girl teams.