Eleven members of the Maple Ridge Ramblers wrestling team fought their way into the B.C. High School Championships, and four of them won gold medals at the Upper Fraser Valley Zone Championships.
That event was hosted by Ridge on Saturday, and 152 athletes from Hope to Delta, along with some 200 spectators packed the MRSS gymnasium.
“That’s huge – 11 out of 14 team members,” noted Ramblers coach Bill McCrae. “I’m quite happy.”
Flu-ridden Cam Hicks had a gutsy championship performance. He was sick right up to the time of his gold medal match, vomiting in a garbage can moments before. Coach McCrae had the white towel in his hands, ready to throw it in, if Hicks had to stop the match.
He pinned all of his opponents en route to the zone title, and McCrae doesn’t see anyone threatening him winning provincial gold.
“He won’t be touched.”
Payten Smith continued an unbeaten streak that has now lasted three years. She won provincial silver in her first year as a Grade 8, and will be fighting for her fourth B.C. championship, when the provincials are held Feb. 28 to March 1 in Prince George.
Both Hicks and Smith will also compete at the nationals in Guelph, Ont. in early April.
The saying, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” certainly applies to one of McCrae’s favourite new wrestlers – Wolfie Wallace, a Grade 8, who won gold in the 38 kg class.
“He wins with tenacity – he just throws himself right in,” said the coach.
Wallace was having points scored against him in his earlier matches, but has quickly learned good defence. The coach is interested to see how the new wrestler makes out at the provincials, but McCrae is confident in predicting a medal.
Another potential provincial medallist is Libby McDonnell. She dropped from 69 kg down to the 64 kg, and mowed down the competition. McCrae expects her to do well in Prince George, but doesn’t know how tough the competition will be in the new weight class.
Marko Kolobaro placed second, and right behind him in third was Gaerth Bourke.
Rounding out the Ridge team scoring were Jacob Burgi (third), Jack Dillen and Aslan Altinay (fourth), Tyler Drew-Adams and Scott McKenzie (fifth).
The cost of the trip is high, about $400 per athlete, and only seven of the wrestlers are planning to attend. The team is hosting a pub night fundraiser at the Haney Hotel on Saturday, and is selling $20 tic kets for dinner and a beverage.
• For tickets or information call McCrae at 604-616-3527, or get tickets at the door.