Alberni District Secondary Takes BC High School Wrestling Combined Crown

Post date: Feb 28, 2011 8:17:31 PM

For the second year in a row the ADSS Armada boys and girls wrestling teams combined to win the prestigious BC Secondary Schools Wrestling Championships Aggregate title. This year it wasn’t even close as ADSS finished with 98 points well ahead of second place Carson Graham of North Vancouver at 62 pts and Yale of Abbotsford with 61 pts.

The performance by the ADSS wrestling teams was one admired by many across the province at this year’s BC High School Championships in Abbotsford. Alberni’s rich tradition in wrestling added another proud chapter as it is one of the few schools in BC that can boast a well balance program with both the boys and the girls teams very strong.

Both the ADSS boys and the girls teams were second in the respective divisions and both were in the thick of the hunt for BC titles. In one of the tightest races in years in the boys competition ADSS finished with 58 points to first place Rick Hansen of Abbotsford who had 67 pts. Perennial powerhouse Burnaby Central were third with 54 pts followed by WJ Mouat at 50 pts and Guildford Park at 49 pts. On the girls side it was Smithers with their first ever championship taking the title with 58 pts followed by ADSS with 40 pts, Yale, 32 pts, Carson Graham 28 pts and St Thomas Moore 26 pts.

“We are extremely proud of the fact that our program gives equal opportunity for both boys and girls and has developed such strong teams in both genders,” said program director Tom McEvay, “ our coaches have done an amazing job with these young athletes starting with our kids programs and working all the way through the middle schools and then at ADSS. There are very few programs in any sport, anywhere in Canada that can rival what we have accomplished here in Alberni.”

Those accomplishments have now included three BC High School Wrestling Aggregate titles, five boys individual team titles and two girls individual team titles. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that the ADSS boys have been in the top five in BC in 21 of the past 29 years and the girls have been in the top five 12 of the past 16 years. Individually ADSS has had 69 BC High School Champions and 183 BC High School medalists in the past 32 years.

Adding to those impressive totals this year were BC gold medalists Jordie Bodnar on the girls side and Isaiah Taylor for the boys. For Bodnar it was her incredible second BC title in a row as she won the 43 kg weight division. Bodnar won this year in very dramatic fashion as she edged teammate Rhea Wing with a point scored at the buzzer in the final round. Coach Richelle McKenzie commented, “It was also very gratifying to see Jordie to come back this year to win again after a serious injury to her elbow early in the season.” McKenzie and Bodnar’s dad long time Alberni coach Russ Bodnar were in her corner for her exciting victory.

For Taylor it was a fitting way to end his high school career as the 84 kg BC Champion. Taylor’s victory was also somewhat of a comeback as he had recently returned from Nanaimo where he lived for the past year after many years in the Alberni program. Taylor had not competed in any tournaments this year until he returned to the valley to finish his grade 12 year at ADSS and Vast this semester. Consequently he was not seeded going into the BC’s and had to defeat the number four and number one seeds in the prelimins before a close victory over Manpreet Virk of John Oliver in the final.

“It was a bit of a roller coaster ride for both Jordie and Isaiah this year and in particular the past few weeks as we worked hard to get them ready for the BC’s,” said ADSS coach John McDonald, “it is a real credit to them, their coaches and their families that they were able to compete and ultimately triumph as BC High School Champions. We will undoubtedly use their stories of overcoming adversity and persevering as motivation for future athletes.”

Four ADSS wrestlers won silver medals at this year’s BC’s. It was the young guns who lead the way in the light weight for the local program. Rhea Wing followed up her impressive bronze medal at last year’s championship with a very impressive silver this year as a grade 9. The only thing that stopped Wing was two time BC champion, teammate and friend Jordie Bodnar and that wasn’t until the last second of their match in the final at 43 kg. On the boy’s side it was the grade 9 Wagner twins, Jesse and Jordan who took second at 45 kg and 48 kg respectively. Both ended up against older more experienced opponents in the final but both had upset some tough opposition to make it to the finals.

“All three of the ADSS grade 9’s who took silver’s at this year’s BC’s came from Neill Middle School this year where they learned their craft the past three years under coaches Erin Anker, Jason Wolff, Grant Coates and others,” pointed out McEvay, “ without tremendous feeder programs with such dedicated coaches at Neill and Dunn our high school program is not successful and may not even exist. We have a very strong developmental model that we have worked hard at for many, many years and results like these are proof that it works.”

Another Neill product is grade 12 senior Brianne Charles who capped a terrific high school wrestling career with a silver at 64 kg. The daughter of wrestling alumnus and volunteer coach Preston Charles, the younger Charles had an outstanding BC’s with some tense matches leading up to the final. The final was no different as she and her opponent Monika Podgorski of St Thomas Moore battled in an evenly fought match. With Podgorski leading and time running out Charles attempted her patented hip toss and came ever so close to changing the outcome.

Two ADSS veterans captured bronze medals this year. Grade 11 Cullen Hines took third at 74 kg and grade 12 Austin Evans was third at 57 kg. Both were disappointed and unfortunate not to be in the finals as they suffered tough losses in the semi finals Friday night. In perhaps one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish they both came back Saturday morning to put in courageous performances and comeback with two victories each and the bronze in their respective weight classes. Both wrestlers were products of the Dunn wrestling program before coming to ADSS.

Another Dunn product and still only a grade 8 at that middle school is 47 kg wrestler Remi Wells who had a terrific first BC’s. Wells took 6th place in her first BC’s appearance. She is part of another strong group of grade 8’s who will move to the high school program next year. They will join a fabulous group of grade 9 and 10 athletes who will definitely continue the tradition of excellence that has become a trademark of ADSS wrestling.

“We are extremely excited about this group of young athletes coming up through our program,” said coach James Messenger, “our results this year were exceptional but we know that this may only get better with the talent coming up. There were many young wrestlers, both boys and girls, who didn’t place this year but who showed they are ready for this level with their performances at this year’s championships. The program is definitely in good hands for the near future.”

That immediate future includes preparations for the national cadet and juvenile championships in Windsor Ontario April 6-10. Messenger expects to take between 6 and 10 local athletes to this year’s nationals. Fundraising has started as it is not cheap to get this many athletes to Ontario. If you want to help please contact Tom McEvay at Vast at 250-723-3744.

See our photo gallery for a selection of photographs taken by Christopher Hines at the event.