Salt Spring Island wrestlers have spent the early part of 2018 proving their skills around the province, with recent tournaments in Abbotsford and Campbell River netting medals for island boys.
Three Salt Spring team members participated in the Western Age Class Wrestling Tournament held at the Envision Athletic Centre at the University of the Fraser Valley from Jan. 25 to 27. The tournament’s matches are created by age, rather than weight, so athletes of the same age can have significantly different years of experience in the sport.
Danny Villa-Gomez (senior boys division), William Rithaler (junior boys) and Finn Hughes (elementary boys) met stiff competition in a field of over 350 athletes participating from all over B.C. and Alberta.
“Danny and William met some of their toughest opponents yet this season, being challenged in matches where their opponents had much experience and different techniques they don’t usually see in their own zone competitions,” said parent correspondent Loretta Rithaler.
“Danny finished eighth and William ninth in the two most challenging weight classes, with all matches (except one) being against opponents from the Lower Mainland or Alberta. All matches in these weight classes were exciting to watch and terrific learning opportunities for the young athletes.”
As well, Hughes had a great first “big tourney” experience, earning a silver medal in the 40 to 42-kilogram weight class in the elementary boys division (under 13 years).
A broad representation from the Salt Spring Island Wrestling Team turned out for the Campbell River Invitational Tournament on Feb. 3. All six athletes finished in the top four of their weight class.
For the middle school boys, Hughes earned a bronze medal in the 43 to 46-kg class with teammate Julius Galea coming in fourth. Finley Lesosky earned a bronze medal in the 41-kg class. Sawyer Lesosky and Rithaler each earned a fourth-place finish in the 45 and 48-kg classes, respectively.
Competing in the seniors boys division, Villa-Gomez won the silver medal in the 66-kg category.
Coach Leon Esquivel expressed his pride in the young group to have achieved such success in a short time.
“Two of the athletes have been with the club for a few years and have experienced a lot of growth and are working very hard in two of the most challenging weight classes in the sport this season. There is no question they are competing in tough matches, but are showing great determination. The four youngest wrestlers who competed in this event had an opportunity to apply some of the moves they have learned in their first year with the club, with success.”
The next event for Villa-Gomez and Rithaler is the Island Zone Tournament this Saturday, Feb. 17 at Chemainus Secondary School. After that is provincial championships held at the Port Alberni Multiplex from March 1-3.