On Friday afternoon Alberni District Secondary School filled with students from local elementary schools and their families for their final wrestling tournament of the season.
Match after match, students shook hands and then took to their wrestling stance. As the whistle blew they tried out the offensive and defensive skills they had been working on at practice against their opponents.
For Liam Horbatch of Ahousaht, a Grade 6 student at EJ Dunn, he was in Grade 4 or 5 when he first tried wrestling and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I found out that I really liked it, and it was really, really fun,” he said, adding that he also enjoys wrestling at other schools.
His favourite move in wrestling is a double-leg takedown into a half-nelson.
“I can just pick them up and take it into a half nelson and pin them,” said Horbatch.
This year Horbatch has been learning about teamwork, adding that he will be cheering his friends on throughout the tournament.
For Kylie Gallic of Tseshaht, a Grade 5 student at EJ Dunn, it is her second year participating in the sport.
“I’m very excited,” said Gallic, going into Friday’s tournament.
“My dad explained to me what wrestling was when I was really little, and I just wanted to join because it sounded really fun,” said Gallic.
Similar to Horbatch, Gallic’s favourite move in wrestling is a half-nelson.
Leading up to this tournament the students played in some mini tournaments, though this was the big and final season tournament for the students.
Brianne Charles of Hupačasath is one of the coaches for the EJ Dunn Wrestling team. For Charles it’s important to be a good mentor for the students.
“Our program has a lot of great mentors and other coaches that I’ve looked up to,” said Charles. “The program, its quote is ‘the tradition continues’, so we are always striving to ask our wrestlers to come back and teach.”
Charles reflects on a positive season of coaching the students.
“I think they’ve learned a lot,” she said, adding that her favourite thing about coaching is teaching wrestling skills and watching students improve.
Horbatch was most excited to “have fun and win” going into Friday’s tournament.
By Alexandra Mehl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter