Canada Games wrestlers prepared for Winnipeg
Training regularly in Green’s Harbour, Whitbourne, St. John’s
Crescent Collegiate has a few wrestlers in its ranks that will travel to Winnipeg later this month for the 2017 Canada Games. The young wrestlers from the Trinity South area are currently training in Green’s Harbour, St. John’s and Whitbourne in preparation for the national stage.
In a small classroom at Whitbourne Elementary, a group of young wrestlers work hard on technique, with sweat dripping from their brows.
They go over manoeuvres for takedowns and how to best grapple with the opponent, striving to sharpen their skillset in light of a big event on the horizon.
Most of these athletes will travel to Winnipeg later this month for the 2017 Canada Games. The wrestling team is stacked with bodies from across the province, from Sheshatshiu in Labrador all the way to St. John’s.
This group also includes four Crescent Collegiate students, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the South Dildo school has supported a wrestling program for years.
Representing Newfoundland and Labrador and the school at this year’s national sporting event are Jordan Pitcher, Rudi Smith, Emily Temple and Owen Warren. Peter Petipas of Whitbourne, a coach with the Crescent Collegiate program, is one of four coaches for the Canada Games team.
“We’ve got three practices a week in St. John’s, and we’ve got two in Green’s Harbour and one out here,” Petipas explains as bodies continually hit the floor mats laid out in front of him.
“They get Saturdays off,” he adds with a laugh.
Wrestlers on the Canada Games team earned their spot through three tournaments held during the most recent school year.
The veteran of the group from the Trinity South area is Pitcher, a Norman’s Cove native entering his Grade 10 year this fall. He started wrestling at Crescent Collegiate in Grade 7, but his commitment level to the sport took an extra step last year.
“I’m just in love with combat sports,” he said while taking a break from practice last Wednesday. “I love being aggressive, and I just got into wrestling really quickly.”
The other local members of Team Newfoundland and Labrador are relative newcomers to the sport. Temple watched her brother in a tournament and thought it looked like fun.
“I’m very aggressive, so I thought it would be a good way to be aggressive,” the 16-yearold from Norman’s Cove told The Compass.
Smith, who lives in Old Shop, has a kickboxing background and only moved to the area a few months ago from St. John’s. Wrestling wasn’t previously available to her as a school sport.
“I’m really into contact sports and stuff like that,” said the 15-year-old Smith.
Warren, 14, started wrestling
six months ago based on the recommendation of friends who thought he’d be a good fit for the sport, given his size.
“I gave it a try, and I loved it the first day,” Warren said, adding he became extra motivated upon realizing the opportunity
was there to make the Canada Games team.
“It just made me more pumped and made me want to gain more strength, gain more speed, and gain more everything — just become the best I can become.”
Warren, who lives in Chapel Arm, also draws on the fact he’s a cancer survivor as motivation. He was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma as a five-year-old.
“To actually be in wrestling, and for other people dealing with cancer to see me be able to do this, makes me happy,” he said.
Being relatively new to the sport forces Smith, Temple and Warren to work extra hard at learning the technical aspects of wrestling. While it might seem like Smith would have an edge given her experience with kickboxing, she’s quick to note the two combat sports are quite different.
“Wrestling is a lot of technique, and kickboxing is just about hit and don’t get hit,” Temple said.
A couple of wrestlers training with the group, Logan Drover and Brandon Mercer, are not part of the Canada Games team, but they will still be eligible to compete four years from now at the next games.
“They’re newer to the sport too … but at least they’re getting their feet wet now, and it’s good for them to be training all summer long with everyone else who are training,” said Petipas.
All of the young athletes are pretty excited about the opportunity that awaits them in Winnipeg.
“I’m really pumped about it — nervous as well,” said Pitcher, who got a taste of competition off the island earlier this year when he travelled to Prince Edward Island for Atlantics. He earned a bronze medal at that event, Warren won gold, and Temple returned home with a silver medal.
The Canada Games wrestling competition begins Aug. 9 and continues for three days.
I love being aggressive, and I just got into wrestling really quickly.
Jordan Pitcher, right, demonstrates a wrestling move on Brandon Mercer.
Emily Temple, left, and Rudi Smith engage in some friendly practice at Whitbourne Elementary.
Owen Warren, right, and Logan Drover work on their wrestling skills during a practice session in Whitbourne last Wednesday.
These wrestlers are training six days a week in the lead up to the 2017 Canada Games.
Canada Games coach Peter Petipas of Whitbourne shows off one of the Team Newfoundland and Labrador wrestling uniforms.