BC Summer Games Press Release and Photos

Post date: Jul 21, 2014 10:38:04 PM

Island Wrestlers on Top of the Podium at Summer Games

Ten local wrestlers were part of a 24 member Vancouver Island Wrestling team that competed this past weekend at the 2014 BC Summer Games in Nanaimo. Beside the Alberni wrestlers the Island team came from Victoria, Cowichan, Saltspring Island, Nanaimo, Qualicum, Courtenay, Ucluelet, Campbell River and Quadra Island. Close to 120 athletes from seven different zones competed in the wrestling event at the bi-annual BC Summer Games. The Vancouver Island wrestling team, Zone 6, entered the tournament as the defending champions and did not disappoint. Led by local coaches Jeannette Badovinac and Chris Bodnar, the Island squad won the team gold medal and brought home a proliferation of individual hardware.

“Some of the main criteria we considered when making selections for the team were commitment to the sport, strong work ethic, and unwavering sportsmanship. All of these athletes demonstrated these qualities to the highest level throughout the entire competition and I couldn’t be more proud. Every one of these young people represented their zone, their communities, and themselves with dignity, pride, and respect,” stated coach Chris Bodnar.

In total an impressive 23 of the 24 Island wrestlers placed in the top 6 in their weight classes. This success is indicative of the strength of Island wrestling programs and is the result of the great attitude and hard work all of these athletes committed. All 10 of the Alberni wrestlers placed led by gold medal performances from Isaac McDonald (45kg), Aaron Badovinac (63kg), Dean Leyland (78kg), and Nolan Badovinac (84kg). Other medalists from Port Alberni were Johannes Kulich (2nd at 70kg), Emma McGowan (2nd at 64kg) and Michel Kurucz (3rd at 60kg). Lauren Barker (4th at 57kg), Remi Wells (5th at 60kg) and Jarred Beckett (6th at 60kg) were the other local placers.

The Games started on Thursday with the Opening Ceremonies and when the dust settled after the preliminary action on Friday and Saturday, the home Island team had an astonishing 14 athletes in the finals held on Sunday morning. Zone 3 from the Fraser Valley were expected to be the Island’s strongest opponent in the wrestling competition and they qualified 12 athletes for the Sunday finals. This set the stage for a dramatic finish in the team competition with every matching critically important.

On Sunday the Island team won 9 of their 14 finals. Alberni’s McDonald led things off for the Island with his win at 45 kg but the Fraser Valley were looking very strong in the early matches and seemed to be unbeatable. A key victory for the Island team came in the head to head final at 60 kg when Kayden Dorma of Cowichan defeated the reigning National Champion, Navdeep Dhillon, from the Fraser Valley by a dramatic come-from-behind pin. The Island also rattled off gold medal performances from Faye Tuck of Nanaimo at 57 kg, Ali McPhee of Campbell River at 64 kg, John Fayad of Victoria at 66kg and Erin Geddie of Victoria at 75 kg before the Alberni trio of the Badovinac brothers at 63 kg and 84 kg and Leyland at 78 kg sealed the title for the host zone.

Once the points were tallied, Vancouver Island scored a narrow victory in the team race over their Fraser Valley rivals. The Vancouver Island team won gold with 150 points to best the second place Fraser Valley who were close at 139 team points The Vancouver zone team finished third with 97 team points. An emotional Island co-coach Jeanette Badovinac summed up her feelings by stating, “Winning the team title was a very exciting moment but the thing I am most proud of is the way that these athletes bonded together and supported one another through victory or defeat. The number of laughs, high fives, and heart-felt cheers this group shared created memories that we will all cherish for the rest of our lives. It was an honor to work with each and every one of these kids.”

To cap off an amazing weekend, local ADSS wrestler Nolan Badovinac, was recognized at the Closing Ceremonies for his continued excellence in leadership, sport, and academics. Badovinac was honored by Coast Capital Savings with one of sixteen $500 bursaries to Games athletes. To top that honour Badovinac was also selected by the BC Summer Games Executive from among the 3,700 participants at this year’s Summer Games to receive the W.R. Bennett Award for Athletic Excellence. This which is a $2500 bursary given to one athlete at each Games to be used for direct sport or post-secondary expenses.

Alberni Wrestling President Tom McEvay was very proud when notified of Badovinac’s recognition, “Nolan is an exceptional young man. He has the complete package of academic and athletic excellence who more importantly possesses character traits that make him an outstanding human being. We couldn’t be happier for Nolan and his family and we are extremely proud to have him as part of our Alberni Wrestling family.”

The wrestling venue at the 2014 BC Summer Games was certainly a place where Alberni Wrestling could feel very proud. Apart from coaches Bodnar and Badovinac and the 10 local athletes on the Island team every facet of the event was dominated by Alberni Wrestling volunteers or alumni. The Tournament Chairman was alumnus Andrew Tuck and the Provincial Advisor for BC Wrestling was Alberni coach James Messenger. Alberni’s Alana Bodnar was the head pairing master for the event and McEvay and Darral Clark handled the announcing and finals organization. Alberni alumnus Cody McEvay and Kraig Doskotch were part of the officiating team. Alberni Olympian and former BC Games Island team member Travis Cross was on hand to present medals and be an excellent role model for the young athletes to emulate.

Alberni wrestlers who now turn their attention to fundraising for the 2014-2015 season. Please visit www.alberniwrestling.ca if you would like information about how you can support their fundraising efforts or if you would like to get involved with the Alberni Wrestling program.

Photos courtesy of alumnus Dan Hall: