WOSSAA wrestling

 Giving it their all on the mats


  Fourteen will represent St. Thomas - Dorchester at OFSAA wrestling

  Parkside leads way with five top two finishes at WOSSAA


Friday, February 23, 2018


  • WOSSAA wrestling




By Rob J. Ross 

LONDON, ON - Alex Cooper, Mackenzie Miller and Nikky Laframboise.

The female trio have been pillars for the St. Joseph's Rams wrestling team throughout their careers.

Now in grade 12, they will once again finish the season at OFSAA, the provincial high school championships.

Cooper (gold at 83-kilograms), Miller (gold, 115-kg) and Laframboise (silver, 47.5kg), helped St. Joe's place second overall in the girls' division, at the Western Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association (WOSSAA) championships, February 23rd, at Banting high school, by winning their respective division.

The top two in each weight class at WOSSAA, qualified for OFSAA, March 6-7, in Windsor.

The Parkside Stampeders, who placed third in overall team points, have five athletes heading to OFSAA, with WOSSAA champions Daniel Rattray (boys' 89-kg), Payton Brodie-Grubb (girls' 61-kg) and Maddie King (girls' 44-kg) and silver medalists, Gavin Eldridge (boys' 57.5kg) and Stephanie Boyko (girls' 67.5-kg).

The Central Elgin Titans send silver medalists Sam Gutmanis (boys' 83-kg) and Dalton Holt (boys' 77-kg).

Silver medalist Cadence MacLeod (girls' 115-kg), will represent the Arthur Voaden Vikings.

The Lord Dorchester Beavers will have champion Owen Lynch (38-kg) and runner-up Bailey Dowhaniuk (boys' 44-kg).

Brayden Todd, who trains at LDSS, but represents Ingersoll DCI, won his boys' 61-kg class. The two-time OFSAA champion (at 51 and 54-kg) was selected as WOSSAA male wrestler of the meet. IDCI does not have a wrestling program.

(Complete WOSSAA results)

Cooper and Miller will be making their fourth OFSAA appearances, while it's the third trip for Laframboise.

"It shows the dedication that they have for our team, for their sport and the consistency with which they have been able to compete. They have been the heart of our team since I started coaching at St. Joe's," Rams' coach Wolf Schweitzer said. "Their successes (and those of the Woodhouse sisters, as well the past two years) have certainly helped our team grow in the past four years. Those five girls have provided great role models for our new group to follow." 

St. Joe's ladies had eight top six results, counting towards team points.

Kailey Meehan took home the silver medal in the 54-kg class, but due to a prior commitment, gave up her spot to OFSAA.

Mary Claire Haasen finished fourth at 61-kg, Breanne Keogh, fourth, 72-kg; Claire Vankoughnett, fifth, 47.5.kg and Christine McGraw, sixth, 83-kg.

On the boys' side, St. Joe's had four fourth place finishes, from Tyler Johnston (51-kg), Liam Bacon (57.5-kg), Kristian Krzyzewski (95-kg) and Joshua Helkaa (130-kg). Nolan Giesbrecht was fifth (67.5kg).

"Nolan showed a lot of determination throughout his first year of wrestling, and this result was definitely a pleasant surprise," said Schweitzer. "It is very rare for grade 9s to do well in the medium and heavier weight classes as they usually just don't have the musculature to compete."

Schweitzer added Haasen and Bacon, both Grade 10 students, had "really excellent tournaments," and their performances "showed their development over the past two years and I've got high hopes for them next year."

Stampeder high five

Parkside sends five to OFSAA, led by Brodie-Grubb, who successfully defended her 61 kilogram title.

Rattray, sixth at WOSSAA in 2017, in the 77-kg class, jumped up in weight and position, taking gold at 89 kilograms.

A year ago, King was second behind teammate Colbie Gregory. This year, King didn't let anyone prevent her from a gold medal, even it was just one opponent, Jalen Marcil, of London Central.

"I won one match. Everyone else dropped out of my weight class," King explained.

Already a silver medalist, from the Ontario Amateur Wrestling Association Cadet (14-15 years old) and Juvenile (16-17 years) championships, earlier this month, King aims for the podium at OFSAA. She won one of three matches last year.

"This year I'll actually do well because I'll know what it's like. I was too scared last year, King said. "OFSAA is kind of scary. The whole setting. It's very big. There is so much going on. I think that is what really got me last year. This year I've been to more tournaments so that should help me."

Boyko makes her OFSAA debut, but not without challenges, on and off the mat.

In wrestling, someone sitting in third position can challenge for the second position, if the two athletes have not previously fought at the meet.

That's what occurred to Boyko, after losing the gold medal match to Lilli Porter, of London Saunders. Elizabeth Schori, of Arva Medway quickly challenged Boyko for her silver.

"There wasn't much time and I was super, super nervous. My mom gave me a pep talk to settle me down a bit," Boyko said. "It wasn't a clean match. It was pretty sloppy, but I figured I just needed to win it and it didn't matter how I won it, I just needed to win it."

 Winning on the mat may have been easier, than the challenge Boyko faced after tearing her ACL last season, a year after placing third at WOSSAA.

"It has been a year and a month, so I didn't think I'd be able to wrestle this season. But I did, and I made it here and that was super exciting."

Her goal at OFSAA is to advance to day two.

Brother helps Titan

Sam Gutmanis knows about the atmosphere at OFSAA. The grade 11 Titan attended a year ago, as a CECI coach and spectator watching older brother, Rod. This year he's hoping to be competing on day two.

"I'm really excited to be participating. I got to see what it's about last year and not be anxious about it. Now I'm ready to go at her," said Gutmanis, who following his loss in the gold match was also challenged, by Parkside's Cole Moore. "I was disappointed that I lost, but he is a great wrestler, Mark Summers (of London Central). I looked over and the guy who couldn't challenge was winning, but Cole turned it around and got the pin."

Sam and Cole know each other well.

"We practice together at Parkside. We know each other's styles. I was ready to defend to the silver as I really wanted to go to OFSAA," said Gutmanis, adding what his strategy was to defeat his friend. "Sit back. I wasn't very aggressive. I had to give her once I got that caution. It's sort of my move, the cradle, that's how I win most of my matches."

 Rod brought Sam into the sport two years ago.

"He got me started going to the gym. It's the muscle that really gives you a leg up," said Gutmanis. "First of all, it's knowing how to wrestle, then it's being able to give that extra strength."

Similar to the Gutmanis brothers, King introduced the sport to teammate Emma Penner.

"This is her very first year wrestling and she's the same age as me. She didn't think she'd do very well, but she has medalled at every tournament. I think there were 10 girls in her weight class (57.5kg, at WOSSAA) and she was fifth," said a beaming King. "It can be intimidating, but I told her ‘if I can do it, you can do it.' She is happy now."

Freshmen lead Beavers

Lord Dorchester continues their tradition of producing OFSAA caliber wrestlers, with coach Jack Gunnell, even with athletes in their freshmen year.

"I had 13 wrestlers come out and they stuck with it. They all did well. At TVRA as a team we were third overall, which impressed the heck out of me. I did not expect that at all," said Gunnell, surprised two of his athletes are heading to OFSAA. "I wasn't expecting them to move on, so it's a bonus. After Thames Valley, they found a move that they liked and were starting to execute it."

Lynch, a Grade nine student, defeated Joey Williams, of London Saunders, for gold. Dowhaniuk lost his gold match to Joel Swarth, of London Saunders.

"(Owen) had learned to shoot a nice low single, attacks the ankle and pushes the leg over, which has worked really well for him. He then works up the body and holds for the pin. He's really loving that move," Gunnell said. Bailey has started to copy (Owen's move). He shoots for a double, grabs both legs and tips his opponents over. That has been working extremely well for him. His only loss through TVRA and WOSSAA is his final match against the returning OFSAA champion (Swarth)."

LDSS has produced OFSAA champions, such as Brian Cowan (2011, 51-kg) and Anne-Miet VandenNieuwelaar (2008, 64-kg).

To this day, Gunnell remembers his first athlete who competed at OFSAA, a grade nine athlete named Bob Walmsley, who finished fifth, at 41-kilos.

Kaylee McQuaid, of Woodstock College Avenue, was named WOSSAA's top female wrestler, winning gold at 51 kilograms.

Other top six results:

PCI - Moore, third, 83-kg, Brady Johnson, third, 130-kg; Gavin Tapsell, fourth, 64-kg; Camerin Zimmer, fourth, 72-kg; Gunnar MacLeod, fifth, 77-kg; Paul Moore, fourth, 89-kg; John Liam Jones, fifth, 89kg.

CECI – Adam Holt, sixth, 83-kg; Tory Spry, sixth, girls' 47.5kg;

AVSS - Geneva Brown, third, girls' 115-kg.

LDSS – Owen Bisschop, fourth, 72kg