Wrestler stays perfect at provincials
Maple Ridge Rambler wrestler Payten Smith literally made short work of the competition at the provincial high school wrestling championships in Duncan this past weekend.
Three of her matches were over in less than a minute: 35, 17 and 12 seconds.
Through four matches the Grade 11 wrestler did not have a point scored against her, and won her second straight provincial gold.
She has now competed through two seasons of high school wrestling without a point scored against her.
Strong and fast, her favourite move is the double leg – she grabs both opponent’s legs, picks them up, smashes them to the floor, and goes for a quick pin.
The gold medal match was over in 28 seconds.
In grades 8 and 9, she won silver medals, and this is her second straight gold.
By the end of her high school career, she could have three straight gold medals, and will have been to the provincial championship five straight years.
Her teammate Cam Hicks was a provincial champion in his weight class last year as a Grade 8. He again made it to the final match in Duncan, and had beaten his opponent in two out of three earlier matches, but this year Hicks had to settle for silver.
Grade 12 student Shaimen Bhogal was one point away from his ticket to the final, but he narrowly lost the match to the eventual 60-kg champion and tournament’s most outstanding wrestler, Amrit Benning from Abbotsford.
Next up for Smith is her first trip to the national championships, being held in Saskatchewan in May.
“I’m really excited, I’m training hard every day,” she said, noting that she has joined a wrestling club in Abbotsford for extra coaching and workouts.
Smith said she is expecting some tough competition, but notes “the girl I fought in my final match [at the provincials]) won nationals last year, though.”
She will also compete at the Canada Summer Games to be held Aug. 2-17 in Sherbrooke, Que.
She would like to hoist a medal after hard battles against talented opponents.
“It would be a cooler feeling,” she said. “But I know I’ve earned it, because I train all the time.”