Gladstone secondary hosted more than 100 high school wrestlers and their coaches from Vancouver, the North Shore and the Sunshine Coast Feb. 15 for the zone championships.
Boys and girls in 29 weight classes competed for a top-five finish to qualify for Provincials Feb. 28 to March 2 in the Cowichan Valley. Thirteen Vancouver wresters from won their class and 55 athletes from more than 10 public and private schools qualified for the B.C. Championships.
Mark Magano, wrestling for Killarney and wearing a Canadian national team pinnie, won his 63 kg class, while Hai Minh Nugyen won the 84 kg class for Tupper, and Nathan Juma for John Oliver won the 110+ kg class over wrestlers from Notre Dame, Vancouver College and his own school.
A weight category is open to all students in Grades 8 to 12.
Brian Nguyen of Notre Dame won the 57 kg class. Vancouver College wrestlers Connor McLennan and Julius Villamayor won the 41 kg and 54 kg classes, respectively. Tupper’s Roman Yo and Justin Cacatian took home top honours in the 38 kg and 45 kg classes, respectively.
Richard Nghiem wrestling for the host school, won the 51 kg class.
Wrestling for fifth, the final fight to keep his rookie season alive, Grade 11 Point Grey student Jeremy So took down a taller North Shore athlete in the final seconds of the third round.
“I’ve never trained this hard for anything in my life,” said the 70 kg wrestler after the match, wearing over his head the light blue team sweatshirt that says “Dogmeat.”
“I already knew that I had a couple close fights but this was like war. I used all my muscles — big credit to my opponent, he’s a strong, strong guy,” said So, who changed his diet, cutting sweets three months earlier and then cutting liquids two days before the meet.
“It’s my first year and I was out here to make a point. It doesn’t matter how new you are or how much experience, how strong… if you put your heart into it, you can get where you want to be. It’s just everything ever, just put in that one moment. My mom was up in the stands, I was looking at her and I was crying I was just so happy.”
Britannia’s Jilliane Vina won three matches of a round robin to sweep the girls 54 kg class. Margie Banda of Tupper won the 47 kg class.