UofA Tourney Endurance Test For Sabres

Cari McDonnell - Submitted
The Pipestone Flyer

Risto Wins Bronze - With more than 700 wrestlers from Alberta, BC, NWT, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Feb. 1 high school tournament at the University of Alberta Butterdome  was an endurance test for not only the wrestlers, but for all in attendance.
    Wetaskiwin Grade 11 wrestler Jon Risto fought through six matches to bring home the Bronze in the 59 kg class with 27 competitors.  The tournament got a late start at 10:30 am, and his Bronze medal match against Edson’s Mackenzie Kuilbuer didn’t go until 7:45 pm – but he was definitely the dominant wrestler, pinning Kuilbuer in less than 1 1/2 minutes in the first round, with no points scored against him in that match.  In fact, the only points scored on Risto in the whole tournament was during his one loss against Gr. 12 wrestler Nathan Galan of Calgary, who went on to easily win the Gold against his remaining opponents.  
    “In an ideal draw, Jon and Nathan would have met up in the gold medal final, but both ended up in the same pool,” said coach Shane Rybak.  “There are no crossovers, so there’s not much Jon could have done but fight his way up the B side to capture the bronze. This shows tremendous character as it’s always easy to quit after a loss than fight all the way back for third.” 
    Nakai McDonnell placed sixth overall out of 30 wrestlers in the 62 kg. category.  He also wrestled six matches over the course of the day, not once getting pinned but in his last match was taken down for two three – point throws.  These throws involve one wrestler taking the other down to the mat on their backs from a standing position – not something McDonnell usually gets caught on.  
    “It’s challenging for the athletes to stay primed for matches when a tournament goes on for nine and a half hours straight, trying to be careful to manage their food intake throughout the day, and Nakai lost his first match on the A side after a match came up quicker than he thought right after eating“ said coach Shamus McDonnell.  “Many of these wrestlers will meet again at future tournaments, and it could be a very different ball game.”
    Morgan Reeves had the longest endurance test of the day, wrestling seven matches for a solid eighth place finish out of 41 wrestlers in the 90 kg. weight class.  Morgan’s strength and ability to quickly re-roll his opponent in tight situations continues to make him a notable competitor on the mat.
    It was a tough day for the high school rookies.  Despite winning his first match, 53 kg. Taylor Murray (sorry for supplying an incorrect last name in the last article!) was injured in his second match but should return for the next tournament.
    Grade 10 student Berson Gonzales won his first two matches in the 82 kg. weight class.  In fact, in the first he rolled his opponent around the mat in a tight gut-wrench that earned him a 10-point win by superiority.  Unfortunately his third and fourth matches were losses, which resulted in about a 30th placing in a huge class of 52 wrestlers.
    Morgan Neals continues to improve his skills, but was not able to advance in the 59 kg category like his team mate, Risto. This is a double knock-out event, and despite being close matches, losing his first two took him out of the tournament.
     The coaches would like to thank the families that were on hand for the tournament, supporting their wrestlers through the long day. Towards the end, matches were getting moved to different mats, match number counters were running out of numbers to identify which one of the 1300 matches the mats were on, the refs were tired and everyone was ready to go home. 
    But there was enough battery in the video and digital cameras to capture it all, so let the review begin! Next tournament runs February 8th in Calgary as WCHS wrestlers have their final tournament to prepare for the defence of their ASAA provincial title.

******
Jr High Wrestlers Battled on at Paperweight 
Tournament, Feb. 1

    Alongside the High School Tournament ran a junior high event that lasted more than half the day for local wrestlers Brayden Nilsson and Jakob Dormaar. 
    Dormaar wrestled at 52 Kg where there were 29 competitors – and got his first win of the season - but it didn’t bring the same thrill as his third match of the day.  After some confusion as to what number his next match would be, he started the match adrenaline pumping just to be on time.  Dormaar wrestled with high intensity, even lifting his opponent in a double leg and responding to his coach McDonnell’s encouragement to “get some points.”  Despite losing the close match, in the end he experienced the high of hard wrestling and applying the techniques he’s been learning.

With 28 competitors in the 59 kg, Nilsson was the victim of inexperienced refs, and was out of the tournament after his first two losses.  He was effective with his half nelson’s, and was aggressively making moves on his opponents, scoring points and evading any pins.  
    Both boys will be competing in the 2014 Alberta Winter Games in Banff, Feb. 6 – 9th, with coach McDonnell.

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