After all the hard work they’ve put in the past few years, Nanaimo wrestlers deserve this home-floor advantage.
Dover Bay Secondary School will host the Vancouver Island Secondary School wrestling championships on Saturday (Feb. 11) at the school gym.
“We participate in tournaments all over the Island and it’s only fair that we put one on,” said Andrew Tuck, coach of the Dover wrestlers.
Tuck revived the sport in Nanaimo in 2007 and has helped numerous athletes qualify for provincial, Western Canadian and even national championship tournaments in recent years.
Now all the Island’s top wrestling talent will be on display for city sports fans.
“They’ll be the 200 best wrestlers on the Island,” said Tuck. “It’s not big but it’s high-quality.”
Dover, Nanaimo District Secondary School and Aspengrove School will all be represented on Saturday.
One of the favourites to do well will be Dover’s Kimberly van Hest, three-time reigning Western Canadian champ in her weight class. She likes the idea of wrestling in her home gym, but said she won’t feel added pressure to do well.
“If I have fun then that’s a success for me,” van Hest said. “But of course it’s great if I can have success on the mat and continue on to provincials and nationals.”
Though van Hest is a veteran of big matches, some of her teammates will be wrestling in their most important matches yet.
“We’ve had a couple people pop out of the woodwork that work really hard and are starting to show some results, which is always nice,” said Tuck. “Those kids that you don’t know if they’re ever going to have success on the mat and they start having it; it’s beautiful.”
Nanaimo wrestlers are expecting some exciting matchups. Van Hest said it’s awesome to cheer on her teammates, but she finds it interesting to watch any of the Island’s top wrestlers go at it.
“An awful lot of the matches are nail biters. You don’t really know who’s going to win till it happens,” Tuck said. “I find it exciting. It’s like sudden death in a hockey game.”
Preliminary rounds start at 9 a.m. Saturday with finals going from 2:30-4 p.m.