Three Sabres win B.C. gold

Isaac Bernard of Guildford Park tries to pin his opponent during the B.C. High School Wrestling championships in Abbotsford. Bernard placed first in the 60 kg. weight class, winning his fourth gold medal  in as many years. - JOHN MORROW / BLACK PRESS
Isaac Bernard of Guildford Park tries to pin his opponent during the B.C. High School Wrestling championships in Abbotsford. Bernard placed first in the 60 kg. weight class, winning his fourth gold medal in as many years.
— image credit: JOHN MORROW / BLACK PRESS

As a team, the Guildford Park Sabres showed some improvement over last year.

But the boys high school wrestling team still dropped three places in the standings at the provincial championships Feb. 26-26 in Abbotsford.

“We ended up fifth, but it was so close that we actually had more points this year than we did last year when we finished in second place,” said Guildford Park coach Mark McRae. “We ended up having our smallest team at the B.C.’s in years. But the quality of wrestlers we brought was very strong. We brought three girls and six boys, and of the nine wrestlers, five of them ended up on the podium.

Guildford Park totalled 49 points in the boys standings, just one behind fourth place W.J. Mouat and 18 back of provincial champion Rick Hansen Secondary. The points total received a huge boost from three Guildford Park wrestlers who won gold medals, the most provincial champions from any one school.

Octavio Villena and Isaac Bernard were expected to win, as both were defending championships won last year. The surprise was Jallab Maki, who entered the tournament unseeded and lost a close match in the first round.

“I thought he could win if he had a great tournament,” said McRae. “And he ended up beating the number one seed in the finals and earned the Most Outstanding Match award.”

Bernard carried a two-year unbeaten streak into the tournament, and won his fourth consecutive provincial title in a fourth different weight class, a feat accomplished by only four other wrestlers. This year’s gold medal was on in the 60 kg. category.

Villena defeated national champion Amrit Sund of W.J. Mouat  in a 54 kg. class semifinal, and easily won the final for a second consecutive gold medal.

Rookie Jakob Rainbow placed sixth in the 110-plus kg. category, while Sandra Livingstone placed fourth in the 54 kg. female group.

“Jakob was the youngest wrestler on the podium in his weight class, and will certainly be a medal contender next year,” said McRae. “And this was Sandra’s first full season on the team and she was dominant at times in a weight class that is very competitive. With another full year she should be a medal favourite for next year.”

• Enver Creek placed sixth in the points standings for boys, with medals coming from Karnbir Johal (gold, 90 kg.) and Aron Mann (silver,  110-plus kg.). Other medalists from Surrey schools included Jas Ranu of Lord Tweedsmuir (silver, 63 kg.), Sunny Sahota of Tamanawis (silver, 70 kg.) and Dilsahib Nahal of Princess Margaret (bronze, 84 kg.).

• Hamid Sultan of Fraser Heights, a wrestler in the 45 kg. weight class who trains with the Guildford Park team, was ruled ineligible due to ringworm, a decision McRae called “heartbreaking.”

“The reality is that ringworm is very common in wrestling and has no danger,” he said. “In the U.S., they allow all kids to wrestle with ringworm as long it is covered up by tape or a Band-Aid. There is a significant contingent of coaches and officials in the wrestling community that feel this ruling is not one we should be enforcing at the provincials because it is our last tournament of the year and to eliminate a kid for this is wrong.

“Hamid missed out on a huge opportunity for the wrong reasons.”

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