Port Hardy Secondary School wrestling program continues to grow over 2022-2023 season
With high school’s wrestling season now halfway through, Port Hardy Secondary School (PHSS) Athletic Director Paul Cagna is thrilled with the student participation he’s seen so far.
“It was great, we started with a small group of four wrestlers and now have a full club of about nine students,” Cagna said. “It seems to be growing every week and I look forward to continuing to watch these kids develop by giving them the opportunity to compete in tournaments around the island.”
This is Cagna’s first year coaching wrestling at PHSS, but he noted that he had previously trained a bit while living and working in Ucluelet.
Tyson Whitney has been coaching the wrestling program at PHSS for three years and he recalls signing just three students to train during the 2019-2020 season.
“Dawson Lamothe, Grant Joseph and Maven Speck-Labree,” Whitney confirmed. “Dawson and Grant graduated last year, so Maven is the last one left since the program started.”
Speck-Labree started wrestling when he was in 8th grade. He didn’t win many fights in the beginning, but he always came back to practice and kept learning. In the middle of the season he suddenly turned the corner and started to win. He’s known for his cardio, suplexes, and refusing to quit even when he’s down points late in a match.
Speck-Labree, now in his third year of wrestling, is regarded by the rest of the club as the team captain and the most technical wrestler on the mats.
When asked what keeps him coming back every year, he said he just loves to compete and “see all the new faces every workout.”
His favorite part of training is “teaching the guys how to be crazy guys,” he laughed, adding that his favorite techniques are the concrete mixer and his judo trip takedown.
“I’d love to see Maven compete this year,” Whitney said. “It would be good for him to test his skills on the island and see how he stacks up against other schools. I’m really proud of him for how hard he’s worked over the years. In the beginning there were a lot of classes where just he and I wrestled for an hour and a half straight and he never stopped.
The rest of the club is made up of students who are brand new to the sport.
Jorden Strussi is an 8th grader at PHSS and said he “really enjoyed the camaraderie, everyone is super nice and it was super fun.” He noted that his favorite technique to date is the double leg takedown.
Auzton Shaw, another 8th grader, said wrestling was “a lot of fun to learn about and it helps me stay active.” He said his favorite technique is also the double leg takedown.
Rylan France agreed that wrestling has been a lot of fun so far because it gives him an opportunity to “hang out more and compete with my friends” and that his favorite technique is the trip takedown and he likes to use the half nelson on his ground turning opponents into a pin. He added that Speck-Labree is his favorite training partner.
Karl Baraceros has attended the most courses so far this season. He said it’s “great” because he can “win a few games” and that his favorite technique so far has been the cement mixer.
Baraceros noted that Whitney is his favorite training partner and he aims to score five points against him by the end of the season.
High school wrestling begins Wednesday, January 4th from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the PHSS gymnasium.
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