On Saturday, Jan. 14, Carihi Secondary played host to the annual Campbell River Invitational Wrestling tournament.
Over a dozen schools competed, with teams from Port Hardy, Lake Cowichan, local teams from Timberline and Carihi taking part, as well as prestigious prep school Vancouver College from the Lower Mainland.
“It’s really cool being up here,” said Dante Lemon, competing for Vancouver College in the 49-51 kilogram weight class. “This is my first time being up in Campbell River. It was quite the drive, but it’s really cool representing my school in front of all these people. It’s been fun.”
Carihi was well represented in the meet, with AJ Lontayao and Logan Courtney having success in their respective weight classes. The pair helped Carihi finish third overall in both Junior and Senior boys, respectively. Timberline finished sixth overall. Vancouver College won the event.
“I like this tournament because it means I can sleep in, this being my hometown,” joked Lontayao, the Grade 10 student who was competing in 63-66 kilograms. “There’s obviously nerves because everyone I know is kind of here.”
Port Hardy’s best wrestler on Saturday was Brody Chambers. The Grade 12 student went through all of his preliminary matches in quick fashion, but fell short in the gold medal match, losing to Jude Yee Fong of Vancouver College by a 10-0 margin.
“I’m here to have fun,” said Chambers. “I wanted to represent my family and get that gold.”
Logan Courtney, the 114-116 kilogram wrestler, was thrilled at the idea of being able to wrestle after not being able to for such a long period.
“We haven’t been out in a while,” said Courtney. “All these events after COVID feel really good. To get down and wrestle people, it’s fun.”
Coach Steve Rose, a wrestling coach at schools around Campbell River, says he’s pleased at the turnout at the event and says it speaks to the resiliency of the communities on Vancouver Island.
“It’s been amazing that we’re kind of getting back to almost what we had before COVID,” said Rose. “It’s great and definitely taking the right step toward things. There was about a year and half without wrestling. The tournament last year, was one of the first ones held when we were able to get things going again. Everyone in the island community has done their part to put on these incredible competitive opportunities for these athletes. There are also a great team of parent volunteers whom have stepped up to do hosting.”