Local wrestlers pinning their hopes in High River
Wrestling: Highwood High to host rural championships this weekend
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 06:00 am
The Highwood Mustangs are expecting some help from the country kids when they host the rural provincial wrestling championships this weekend.
Four wrestlers from the MD of Foothills will wrestle for the Mustangs at Highwood High School in High River Feb. 22-23. It’s all part of the winning legacy of former Mustang coach Bill Young, who loved having wrestlers with the tough farm mentally on his squad.
One of those tough farm area Mustangs this year is Shelby Lewis, who finished second at the rural provincials last year in the 53kg division. She has added some muscle this year, and will compete at 65kg.
“I think I can win a medal again but my goal is to do better at provincials,” Lewis said.
The top five wrestlers at rural provincials qualify for the provincials.
Lewis, who finished sixth at the provincial championships in Okotoks last year, was unable to practice last week after injuring her leg when she fell down some stairs. However, she will be ready when her school hosts the rural provincials this weekend.
Austin Burman, who lives about 10km south of Okotoks, is looking forward to his second shot at wrestling at rural provincials.
Burman will wrestle at 69kg for rurals and he is seeking some redemption after he struggled at last year’s championships due to an injury.
“I went last year and I didn’t do very well,” Burman said. “I was out for a few weeks and I went right to rurals, I didn’t have much time to get in condition.”
He is enjoying his best season in 2012-13, picking up a bronze medal in the Novice division at a Saskatchewan meet Feb. 8-9.
“My goals is to go to rurals and qualify for provincials,” Burman said. “I have been wrestling well the last few weeks. I know a lot of the guys I wrestle against because of wrestling the last few years. It’s going to be tough, but I think I can do it.”
Burman has shown plenty of discipline in keeping his weight down — he’s not even sneaking snacks when serving the popcorn at the legendary Wales Theatre in High River.
Sam McLean from the Cayley area does have some regrets as he prepares for rurals. He wishes he didn’t skip two years of wrestling before getting started again as a Grade 12 student.
“I really regret taking those two years off because I feel that extra experience would have really helped me on the mat,” said McLean, who wrestled in Grade 9. “I guess I was just too lazy to get back and I was focused on academics.”
McLean won a bronze medal in his first tournament back, but after injuring a thumb he has struggled.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to do in Edmonton (two weeks) ago, I was in a big weight class,” McLean said.
Grade 10 student Hanna Dayment from Longview is recovering from an elbow injury as she prepares to wrestle at rurals.
“I was doing pretty well until I hurt my elbow in Edmonton about two weeks ago,” said Dayment, who will wrestle at 53kg. “I would love to make provincials.”
The wrestlers are fully aware of the history of wrestling in High River. Championship banners hang from the gym walls like Stanley Cup banners at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
“It gives you a sense of expectations and responsibility,” McLean said.
“Those banners show that this is a good program and it feels good to be part of a legacy,” he said.
The gold medal matches are expected to start around 2:30 p.m.
For more information about the rural provincials go to www.asaa.ca
Rivals’ pal up
The next week of wrestling practice will be like Premier Alison Redford and Highwood MLA Danielle Smith sitting down for a cup of coffee to figure out what is best for the province.
Although that might never happen, the Okotoks Wrestling Club, consisting of wrestlers from Holy Trinity Academy and Foothills Composite High School, and the Highwood Mustangs will practice together this week in preparation for the rural provincial wrestling championships this weekend in High River.
Highwood wrestler Sam McLean grew up just outside of High River and his family has long roots in the foothills, and he knows there has been no love lost between the two towns.
He said for example the High River Flyers would never practice with the Okotoks Bisons before meeting each other in the Junior B playoffs.
Highwood coach Derek Markides said there has always been a good relationship between the schools in the foothills.
“I used to coach with one of (Foothills) coaches Jordan Rhodes so we always got along,” he said. “We are also both two pretty small clubs, and the more guys the wrestlers have to practice against the better.”
Highwood will also be using the Okotoks Wrestling Club’s new $7,000 wrestling mat at provincials.