Tri-City wrestlers came away with five top-three placings at last weekend’s BC School wrestling championships at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.
But Heritage Woods' Kodiaks coach Allan Mah said the fact the tournament took place at all made all the athletes winners.
Hannah Sherman, of Centennial Secondary School, won the gold medal in the female 43 kg category, and Port Moody Secondary’s Ella Finding finished atop the podium in the female 57 kg class.
On the boys side, Yoon Kim of Terry Fox Secondary finished second in the male 63 kg class, teammate Nolan Stewart was third in the 66 kg category, while Centennials Matthew Andalis was third in the 78 kg division.
Mah, who saw four of his wrestlers finish sixth in their weight categories, said it was a triumph of the athletes’ fortitude and perseverance that 400 of them from as far away as Haida Gwaii were able to compete after two years of individual workouts and small dual meets because of COVID-19 public health restrictions.
“It was a great way to forget about the problems and concerns about COVID,” Mah said.
While all high school sports struggled through the pandemic with cancelled seasons, limitations on practices and workouts as well as spectator bans, wrestling had a particular challenge because athletes can’t help but be in close contact while competing.
Mah said that caused some to leave the sport entirely while others forged on with individual training regimes to maintain their fitness.
He added their resolve finally paid off with the resumption of the provincial championships.
“It does feel nice to feel normal again as a wrestling coach and as a high school wrestler, even if it was just for a short period of time.”
Still, the contagion’s shadow was never far away.
Spectators were confined to a seating area in the Coliseum’s grandstand away from the athletes, coaches and support staff, teams had to stay apart and everyone had to wear masks until it was their time to compete on the mats.