Ucluelet’s Mayben Crabbe stands atop the podium after taking her weight class’ top honours at the national high school wrestling championships in Calgary. Jessica Rabet

Ucluelet wrestler takes national title

Mayben Crabbe becomes Ucluelet Secondary School's first national wrestling champ.

A local wrestler has been crowned Canada’s best.

Mayben Crabbe became Ucluelet Secondary School’s first-ever national wrestling champion at the Juvenile Canadian Championships held in Calgary on April 16.

The 17-year-old Grade 11 student felt nervous heading into her final match, but she put on her game face and powered through.

“I was definitely feeling nervous. I was scared at first; but then, once I stepped onto the mat, I just went for it and I was ready to take on whatever happened,” she told the Westerly News. “I thought as long as I give it my all, I’ll be happy with the outcome…I’m very happy with the outcome.”

She is still basking in the excitement of her, and her school’s, first national title.

“I was in shock. I don’t think it’s actually settled in just yet because it’s really surprising and very exciting,” she said. “I just wanted to do my best and see the outcome. I wasn’t expecting too much.”

Crabbe started her wrestling career in Grade 8 and has enjoyed being a part of coach Mike Rhodes’ wrestling team and training program.

“He’s an awesome coach,” she said. “He pushes us and helps us become better wrestlers and better people.”

She added her family’s support has been key to her success.

“My family has always supported me, no matter what. I’m very thankful for them and how they’ve pushed me. My mom and dad helped me throughout the season, making sure I’m doing my training on days where I just want to stay at home,” she said.

“The whole town is very supportive and my teammates are always cheering me on. It’s very, very, supportive and I’m very, very, thankful and grateful…I want to give a really big shout-out and thank you to: my dad, my mom, Mr. Rhodes and all of my teammates.”

Having secured the national title in Grade 11, Crabbe said she’s feeling the pressure of defending her crown when she returns next season.

“This puts way more pressure on,” she said. “I’m going to make sure I stay in training throughout the summer.”

Heather Morrison, who also competed in the championships and placed fourth in her weight class, was stoked to see her teammate’s success.

“She’s doing amazing right now,” Morrison said of Crabbe. “I’ve wrestled with her for many, many, years now and I’m so, so, proud of her and so excited to be her teammate and to be able to celebrate such a huge win with her.”

Coach Rhodes said he wasn’t surprised to see the girls succeed at the national level, but he hadn’t expected a national title to come home.

“I don’t think anybody can go into a tournament, certainly at that level, expecting to win. I knew the girls had been working hard; I knew they’d been training. I knew they would be competitive,” he said adding both girls have been training independently since the regular high school season ended.

“They’ve been traveling on their own. They’ve been finding other Island practices and Island teams to train with; they did this all on their own. I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that they took that initiative, set that goal, followed through in their training and, obviously, it’s paid off in spades for them,” he said.

He is excited to see Crabbe return next season.

“It will be different, I think, for Mayben in terms of going into the season as the champion…She’s already got that under her belt so, in one way, that’s great because it’s out of the way but now there’s that pressure to see if you can do it all over again,” he said.

“But, great athletes, that’s the kind of stuff that they thrive on. That’s the stuff that they’re looking for. You go into a season or a tournament or a match never knowing for sure what the result is going to be; so you put yourself into that pressure situation. This is why you do it: the butterflies in the stomach, the excitement and the chance to have your arm raised.”