Holy Trinity Knight completes his hat trick
Wrestling: Reid Watkins wins third high school provincial title
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012 06:00 am
They saved the best for last at the high school provincial wrestling championships in Okotoks on the weekend.
Homegrown grappler Reid Watkins won his third consecutive Alberta high school title when the Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) wrestler dominated Hidde VanderKamp from Pigeon Lake High School 2-0, 6-0 in the 76kg final in front of approximately 500 fans at Foothills Composite High School on March 10 in what was the final match of the meet.
Watkins' gold medal was one of three earned by Okotoks wrestlers. Foothills Falcon Cassidy Barnert won gold in her home school in the girls 61kg and HTA Knight Christian Nori took home the gold at 50kg. Although Watkins is a veteran of winning high school championships — he is the first Okotoks wrestler to win three gold medals — his last one was extra special.
“This means so much to me to win a gold medal in my hometown,” Watkins said. “I'm always nervous in a final especially in front of this many people.”
Watkins got the lay of the land in the opening round of the final.
“I didn't want to make any mistakes by trying to rush things,” Watkins said. “In the first round, I saw some openings and in the second round, I capitalized on them. ”
VanderKamp said he tried to put the fact he was wrestling against a national champion in front of 500 fans behind him as he stepped on the mat.
“I wrestled Reid at rurals (Feb. 25) and I told myself just because he is wrestling at home that doesn't make him any better,” VanderKamp said. “I went out and did the best I could. I can only get better by wrestling guys like him. He is so fast and has such good balance.”
While Watkins was making Okotoks wrestling history, Foothills Falcon Cassidy Barnert was on the other mat pinning Brynne Agar from Edmonton in the 61kg girls final.
“I was a little nervous being in the last match under my own roof,” she said with a smile. “To win in front of my friends, teachers and family cheering me on really helped… I was thinking I have worked way harder this year and it was my time to shine.” The Foothills wrestler won the first round 2-0 and then pinned Agar a minute into the second round.
“I had this goal in my mind and it was so close that the adrenaline was going,” Barnert said. “To be honest, I don't even know how I got her down… I then just settled in because I didn't want to let her out. When I heard the slap (signifying the pin) it was just an awesome feeling.”
Barnert and Agar have wrestled against each other several times in the past.
“I expected to meet Cassidy in the final. She has improved so much,” Agar said. “She is a lot stronger. She used to be easier to get down. (Tonight) I went for a throw and it didn't work and she countered that and I got pinned.”
Nori's pinning of Ashwin Ram from Edmonton in the first round of the 50kg final had HTA's wrestling coach Doug Watkins literally jumping out of his seat.
“What a guy,” Watkins said of Nori. “I watched his opponent (Ram) wrestle throughout the tournament and I thought he had more experience than Christian. Christian just showed a lot of heart.”
Nori pinned Ram with an head-and-arm throw.
He pushed forward too much when he was trying to get behind me and I was able to get him in a head-and-arm,” Nori said. “When I got him down, I was thinking I have to get him now.”
Okotoks wrestlers also won three bronze medals at the provincial championships.
HTA's Abi Watkins took home the bronze when she outlasted Ashleigh Burns from Calgary's Centennial High School beating her 2-1, 6-0.
“At first I was kind of disappointed because I thought I could do better,” Abi Watkins said. “Now I look back on it, and to win a bronze medal in Grade 10 is pretty good.”
She said she took advantage of her size as her opponent left her legs exposed and Abi used her size to her advantage.
“Shortness really kicked in,” said Abi.
Foothills Falcon Grade 12 student Dallas Toso won the bronze medal at 65kg after pinning Kaeden Goguen in the third-place match.
It was the final match of his high school career.
“I got the bronze when I was in Grade 10 and I missed last year because of an injury,” Toso said. “I got stronger the more the year went on. I had lost to Kaeden earlier this year.”
Toso earned his bronze medal after finishing fourth at the rural provincials.
“To be fourth at rurals and then get a bronze here I am really happy,” Toso said. “This is the first medal I won all year.”
Falcon wrestler Cody Thompson won the bronze medal at 76kg by beating Devon Derkson from High Level. Thompson was a last second entry after a wrestler wasn't able to make the trip. Thompson was sixth at the rural provincials in late February — the top five earned a ticket to provincials.
Foothills Comp athletic director Jordan Rhodes informed him on March 7 he was in for provincials.
“I was pretty confident when I saw the draws (for provincials),” said Thompson, a Grade 10 student. “At rurals, everything was stacked against me.”
Thompson went 4-2 at provincials with his only losses to Watkins and VanderKamp.
“Reid doesn't count in this stuff,” Thompson said with a laugh. “He's a national wrestler. This is like a game out here for him.”
Watkins ended his high school career with only one loss when he was a Grade 10 student and lost to Hugh Tunney.
“He beat me and then he quit just before provincials,” Watkins said. “I never got the chance to wrestle him again. That's my only regret.”
Results from other Okotoks wrestlers were HTA's Jordan Wallace, eighth at 57kg and Falcons Victoria Bergeron and Olivia Pon did not place.
There were approximately 325 wrestlers competing at provincials.
To see the full results go to www.asaa.ca