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Ucluelet wrestler Caitlyn Midlane earns second national title

Ucluelet Secondary School’s Wyatt Rhodes earns gold and silver and Olivia Rhodes earns bronze.
Caitlyn Midlane topped the podium twice securing gold medals in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. (Bill Bain/Wrestling Canada Lutte photo)

Ucluelet Secondary School’s wrestling program has wrapped up another successful year.

The West Coast sent three wrestlers to the national wrestling championships in Vancouver from March 24 – 26 and all three came home with medals around their necks.

“It was unbelievable. It was awesome,” Head coach Mike Rhodes told the Westerly News. “It’s the premier event really for wrestling across Canada. This is it…It really is the best of the best and for our kids to have done so well is pretty amazing.”

Caitlyn Midlane earned two gold medals, Wyatt Rhodes earned a gold and a silver and Olivia Rhodes earned a bronze.

“Overall these young athletes did awesome,” Rhodes said. “To come out of our small, but tough, west coast town, take on the best in the country and come away with five medals is impressive. They worked hard for it though and couldn’t have done it without the support of parents, the community and particularly their teammates, who continued to train with us to help prepare their teammates, their friends, to be the best that they could be”

Grade 10 Caitlyn Midlane was unstoppable at the event, winning her second consecutive national title for freestyle and cruising to a gold medal finish in Greco-Roman as well.

“Caitlyn didn’t give up a single point all tournament and was clearly the top of her class. She was focused and strong, pinning all of her opponents,” Rhodes beamed.

“She was feeling healthy, she was feeling strong and it clearly showed…She definitely has her own unique style in terms of the way that she attacks, the way that she wrestles, but she’s very gifted physically. She’s got raw talent galore. She basically just went into this tournament as ‘I’m going to do to you what I want to do and you’re not going to be able to stop me’ and nobody could.”

Midlane told the Westerly she felt strong heading into the national tournament and, after mowing through three opponents she had never faced in freestyle, she was stoked to see a familiar face on the mat in the finals, who she beat by pinning in just 30 seconds.

“I was happy and excited going into the finals against someone that I’d wrestled before and beat before,” she said.

She added she prefers Greco-Roman wrestling, a less common style where competitors must use only their upper bodies to score points.

“I don’t really wrestle with my legs in the first place, so I did expect to do really good in that one. I didn’t know how freestyle was going to work out, but I did know I was probably going to do pretty good in Greco because that’s how I usually wrestle anyway,” she said.

She added she is proud to represent the West Coast and felt buoyed by her hometown’s support throughout the event.

“We’re like a big family and it’s cool because the people that weren’t there were texting us and watching us online and just pretty much there with us…I do better when they’re cheering me on and knowing that there are people there that are supporting me,” she said.

“We’re from a small town and it’s not everyday that someone’s going to go to nationals for sports and come first. It’s pretty cool that both me and Wyatt Rhodes came first in Greco and we’re from this tiny little town.”

Midlane will now head into next season hoping to three-peat her national title success.

“Everyone’s on me about winning next year too,” she laughed. “I’m really hoping that I can pull it out and win again.”

Grade 8 wrestler Wyatt Rhodes was competing in his first national tournament and secured a silver medal in freestyle and gold in Greco-Roman.

“After I lost I was kind of mad, but I got over that and when I got up to the podium it was all good,” he said of the freestyle finals. “It felt good, looking out and seeing everyone taking photos and knowing you worked really, really hard to get there…All the hard work I put in felt like it was finally worth it. All the pain and suffering of working and fighting for it finally paid off when I had the medal.”

He said he enjoys the individual nature of the sport that forces athletes to continue pushing themselves to improve.

“You have to really fight for what you want. You have to train and if you’re not training enough that’s the reason you lost. You can’t blame the ref, you can’t blame the other guy, the reason you lost is because you didn’t do good enough; you didn’t train hard enough, you didn’t fight hard enough and that’s how you got beat,” he said.

He recalled facing a wrestler during the provincial tournament who he had lost to six times prior and the accomplishment he felt winning.

“That’s the moments that feel really good and then there’s the moments that don’t, when you lose six times to him, but once you finally get them, it’s amazing. That’s what gets you coming back. When you can stick someone on their back and get your arms raised and stand at the podium is when you want to keep coming back,” he said, adding he had to train extremely hard to stay within his weight class.

“There were times that I did not want to keep going, like when I had to lose three kilograms and I had to do this crazy workout, but I did keep going and that earned my way to a silver medal. That’s why I keep coming back, trying to get those medals, fight for the medal and have my hard work pay off.”

Grade 11 wrestler Olivia Rhodes finished fifth in freestyle and earned a bronze medal in Greco-Roman.

“I was really nervous but it was also very exciting,” she said.

Rhodes moved up a weight class this season and said it was a tough transition facing the national tournament’s high level of talent in her Under-19 age bracket.

“I got on the bottom every single time. I just got stuck,” she said. “It’s pretty frustrating and when you lose one the next match comes up pretty quick and you have to get out of that headspace of losing to prepare yourself for the next one. If you’re not mentally ready for the next one, you’re probably not going to do as well.”

She said going through the season’s final tournament added another layer of passion to her matches as she will now be heading into Grade 12 and her last year of high school wrestling.

“It adds a lot of emotion because it’s a lot of fun so I don’t really want to stop doing it,” she said. “I feel like I accomplished a lot this year. I did overcome a lot of obstacles that I had in my way and I feel like I really set a pace for next year because I want to go out with a bang next year…I’m going to wrestle my hardest.”

She thanked her teammates for their support all season and said the comradery USS’ athletes share is “very important.”

“They help me calm my nerves all the time…Everytime someone’s up, we go and watch them and, no matter if they win or lose, we always give them a high five,” she said, adding she was happy to see her teammates do so well. “They all wrestled their hardest.”

Coach Mike Rhodes said the season was “everything that I would have hoped for or expected,” adding there was a solid crop of newcomers and returning athletes.

“We had a really fun, enthusiastic, dedicated and caring team of kids. They were all coming out, they were practicing, they were working hard, they were supporting each other throughout the entire season and they just had a really good bond and connection,” he said. “We had as good a team as we’ve ever had this year and I think it’s going to bode well for next year.”

USS’ wrestling season will kick back up again in early November.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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