Canada Games wrestlers pre­pared for Win­nipeg

Train­ing reg­u­larly in Green’s Har­bour, Whit­bourne, St. John’s

The Compass - - Front Page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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

PHO­TOS BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

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.

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