Two students from Nechako Valley Secondary School (NVSS), Jennor Nohr and Jonah Reinke, are attending the Canadian Wrestling Championships in Saskatoon on April 4.
Nohr, a Grade 10 student, finished the regular season with a near impeccable record of 24 wins and 5 losses. Reinke, who graduates later this year, also finished strong with 26 wins and just 5 losses.
The two students belong to a wrestling team of more than 40 athletes, both girls and boys and high school and elementary studnets, in Vanderhoof.
This year, ten wrestlers from NVSS attended the Provincial Championship in Duncan, B.C. The team had four top 10 finishes.
Their placings were significant, given the size of other schools that competed in the event.
In wrestling, like most individual sports, athletes represent their schools at this event. Nechako Valley Secondary athletes, with a student population of around 520, were competing against the largest schools in the province.
For many NVSS wrestlers, the trip to Duncan served as preparation for the 2014 Provincial Championship in Prince George.
“I wanted them to have the experience of the provincials before we have it in our backyard next year,” said Coach Travis Himmelright.
Expectations are high that several wrestlers from NVSS will stand on the podium in 2014, said Himmelright, a former Canadian National Team member who used the sport to fund his university education.
“We’ve got some great kids here who have a reputation of being tough competitors. If they stick with it, there’s going to be some champions coming out of Vanderhoof,” he said.
The wrestling season typically lasts from October until April and requires an intensive training regimen of at least three practices per week. Competitions occur almost every weekend from December to March, said Himmelright, who is assisted by coaches Sean Ebert and Jeff Verduzco.
One challenge is balancing training and travel with school work.
“The kids who can be successful as both students and athletes will be successful in life. The demands of balancing both says a lot about their character,” said Himmelright.
This year the team traveled to numerous tournaments as well as major championships in Kamloops, Edmonton and the recent Provincial Competition in Duncan.
The high-adrenalin sport involves an element of teamwork, mainly during practice, but when a wrestler steps onto the mat, they’re on their own against their opponent.
When a match results in a hard-fought victory, it’s a huge boost to a student’s self esteem and confidence, said Himmelright.
Nohr and Reinke will be stepping onto the mats at the National Championships in April. Both athletes hope for great results. Vikes wrestling has brought home medals from the nationals in the past. Regardless of the outcome, the team and these athletes have had a great season.