Small wrestler growing in stature
Wrestling: Club getting ready for rural provincials in High River
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 12:23 pm
An Okotoks wrestler hasn’t gained a gram or grown a millimetre on his 52kg body, but every time he steps on the mat he seems just a little bit bigger.
That’s due to a boost in his confidence says Okotoks Wrestling Club coach Mark Barnert.
Jonathan Jeffery, a Grade 10 student at Foothills Composite High School (FCHS), had the best tournament of his first year of high school wrestling when he went 2-2 and finished fifth at the University of Alberta High School Invitational Feb. 2-3 in Edmonton.
“He has really surprised me,” Barnert said. “The first time he wrestled two months ago he kind of stayed in the corner wondering what do I do now?”
The coach said Jeffery has shown the enthusiasm to put his early butterflies behind him.
“He has some natural ability and he likes to learn,” Barnert said.
Although winning begets winning one can learn from losing.
One of Jeffery’s losses in Edmonton was to the 2012 high school provincial champion Colton McDonnell from Wetaskiwin.
“He got pinned in the first round, but he wrestled well,” Barnert said. “He will learn from that.”
The first-year wrestler agreed he has improved since the start of the year. In his first meet in Medicine Hat he didn’t win a match.
“I was really nervous, but this time in Edmonton I didn’t get so nervous,” Jeffery said. “When I won my first match my confidence level went way up. I knew that I could win.”
He said wrestling is a good sport for athletes who are on the smaller side when they enter high school.
“I am going up against guys my own size,” Jeffery said. “The only sport I tried out for was basketball (JV) and I didn’t make the team. It worked out well because I am starting to win in wrestling and I like it.”
His goal is to make it into a wrestling final in a tournament. As well, he would like to finish in the top five at the rural high school provincial championships in High River, Feb. 22-23. If he can crack the top five he will qualify for the provincials in Edmonton, March 8-9.
Jeffery has experience with provincial wrestlers. Not only did he wrestle McDonnell in Edmonton, he has wrestled teammate Christian Nori in practice and once in a tournament. Nori, a Grade 11 student at Holy Trinity Academy, won the provincial championship at 50kg last year.
“He beat me, but Christian is a good wrestler and wrestling him just makes me better’”
Nori said it is tough to wrestle a teammate — and it’s getting tougher because Jeffery has improved. Nori usually attacks a wrestler’s legs like a blender liquefying broccoli, but he tries to extend the matches against his fellow Okotokians.
“Our coaches don’t like us to go out there and just beat up each other,” Nori said. “He is a lot better than he was. He can get down on himself when he loses a match, but I still do that. We both have to learn to put our losses behind us and learn from it.”
There’s a whack of medals to come from the “Wrestling Watkins” if the results from the University of Alberta meet is any indication.
Abi Watkins, a Grade 11 student at Holy Trinity Academy (HTA), won the gold medal in the 61kg division in the high school tournament by winning all seven of her matches. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Sadie Watkins, a student at John Paul II Collegiate, won gold in the 39kg division of the junior high school tournament.
It was a victory of Olympic proportions for Sadie. The gold medal was presented to her by two-time Canadian Olympic medalist Carol Huynh. Sadie was informed while Huynh has won two Olympic medals, she never won the Edmonton tournament. The organizers asked if Sadie would be up to wrestling Huynh for the gold medal and she wisely replied: “I don’t think so.”
Other Okotoks Wrestling Club results from Edmonton in the high school division were: Cassidy Barnert (FCHS), silver, 65kg female; Jenna Morrison, (HTA), went 4-2 at 61kg; and Cody Thompson (FCHS), fifth, 76kg.
Okotoks wrestlers also competed in Saskatoon Feb. 8-9.
Those results were: Novice — Brody Scheirman, silver, 47kg; Jenna Morrison, silver, 60 kg.
Elite — Barnert, bronze, 64kg girls; Abi Watkins, silver, 60kg girls; Brody Scheirman, silver, 47kg; Nori, silver, 50kg and Jeffery, 2-2, 53kg.