The Ucluelet Secondary School Warriors wrestling team made their West Coast proud as they hit the mats for the last time this season at the provincial championships in Langley from Feb. 15-17.
“Everybody wrestled hard and did a great job against some very stiff competition,” the team’s coach Mike Rhodes told the Westerly News. “These are the best kids in the province competing, so everybody is bringing their top effort.”
About 450 athletes from across the province competed at the championships with Abby Titian, Owen Rhodes, Evan Johansen, Elsa Wagner, Krista Wagner and Olivia Rhodes representing USS.
“The kids did great,” Rhodes said. “Many of them improved on their results from last year in terms of winning matches and getting deeper into the draw, so that’s a positive to build on for next year. We have all but one of our athletes coming back next season, so there is a lot to look forward too.”
Olivia Rhodes was competing at the provincials for the first time and brought home an impressive silver medal.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment. She’s been pretty dominant at her weight all year and she showed that at this tournament too. She wrestled great all weekend. It’s a little strange to say she’s a bit disappointed with silver, but her opponent in the finals is also very tough,” Rhodes said. “Olivia had beaten her earlier in the year in a couple close matches and, unfortunately, today was just her day. I’m already looking forward to watching them compete again next season. It’s great to have that challenge to look forward to and train for.”
He added that Owen Rhodes and Evan Johansen earned some hard-fought wins “against some tough kids” and he’s excited to see them develop.
“They’re only going to get stronger as they keep pushing each other to get better,” he said.
He commended both Elsa and Krista Wagner for battling hard and said they each earned valuable experience.
“They’re getting more experienced and are right on the verge of winning some of those late season matches. I know they’re going to be training hard next season just for that edge,” he said.
Rhodes noted that this was Abby Titian’s last tournament with the team as she will graduate this summer.
“We have to say goodbye to Abby this year, but she’s had a great run and come a long way during her years at USS,” he said. “She worked hard to come back from an injury this year, so just to be able to get out there was an accomplishment in itself. To win a couple matches was a nice way for her to finish.”
He suggested the season was rich with individual accomplishments and a growing comradery within the team that he hopes to see become even stronger next season.
“Overall it’s been a great season for the Warriors. We did have some injuries and a few setbacks but we had a lot more successes, and a whole lot of good times along the way; even some crazy travel adventures to add to the memories,” he said. “We have a pretty solid core group of kids that are super supportive of each other and have a lot of fun together as well as a few who have been coming out to practice but not quite competing yet. Caitlyn Midlane was a competitive Grade 7 athlete from UES that will definitely add to the girls contingent next year.”