Carpenter High wrestling season underway

Meadow Lake’s Nathan Schwartz (top) takes control of this  match Saturday afternoon at Carpenter High.

Meadow Lake’s Nathan Schwartz (top) takes control of this match Saturday afternoon at Carpenter High.

by Phil Ambroziak

Carpenter High School wrestlers are determined to pin down a provincial championship this year, but it won’t come without a challenge.

The high school wrestling season is officially underway, but according to coach Jason Guenther, a stronger focus this year will likely be placed on individual success rather than a team championship.

“Our numbers are down this year,” Guenther said. “Last year, I had seven wrestlers leave because they graduated or moved away. Now, we’re down to about seven altogether. A full wrestling team consists of 15-16 competitors.”

Guenther also said it would be next to impossible for the team to secure a major championship because of its size.

“They will have to aim for individual medals,” he continued. “For a small community, however, this isn’t bad.”

In spite of Guenther’s prediction, Grade 12 wrestler Nathan Schwartz remains optimistic about winning the big one.

“CHS has never won a provincial banner for wrestling and that is definitely one of my goals,” Schwartz said.

A third-year wrestler, Schwartz has competed at Provincials the past two seasons. He initially became involved in the sport through the encouragement of a friend.

“My friend Luke mentioned he wanted to take it up after football season,” he said. “Once I started doing it, I realized it’s such a great sport. It’s a great workout, but it’s not just about strength – it’s also about technique. You learn these sophisticated moves, which is a huge accomplishment, especially once you execute them during a tournament.”

Unlike Schwartz’s introduction to the sport, Guenther is hopeful future CHS students will gain both an understanding and an appreciation for wrestling thanks to the Northern Pikes Wrestling Club. Created by Guenther three years ago, the club is open to members nine years and older. This year, close to 30 boys and girls have registered. The lone girl on the CHS team, Seanna Salmond, is also the first Northern Pikes wrestler to move on to the high school program.

“This club is all about getting them involved and enjoying the sport at a young age,” Guenther noted. “It also helps get rid of a lot of the stereotypes surrounding wrestling. It’s often hard to recruit kids when they hit Grade 10 because they don’t understand it. If they have an interest ahead of time, they aren’t afraid of the faux pas high school kids tend to have.”

While the high school’s first wrestling tournament won’t happen until Dec. 15, the Northern Pikes already competed in Weyburn earlier this month. Meadow Lake and area wrestlers were successful in their efforts with gold medals going to Evan Eide and Carter Fleury, silver medals for Gabriel Regnier and Cain Witzaney, and a bronze medal earned by Moise McIntyre.

“It was awesome,” Eide, a Grade 6 student at Gateway Elementary School, said about his win. “I’ve been wrestling for three years. It’s fun. I like taking people down and pinning them.”

Fleury, a Gateway Grade 5 student, is new to the Northern Pikes. He said he joined the club because he wanted to have fun.

“It has been fun,” he said. “It was really good to win gold.”

Meadow Lake and area wrestlers of all ages had a chance to showcase their skills this past weekend when CHS hosted a mini-camp/exhibition event Dec. 8. Wrestlers from Prince Albert, Bonnyville and Onion Lake also took part in the event, which included morning training sessions and afternoon matches.

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