Wrestlers show courage, resiliency during high-level tournaments
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Wrestlers from Sioux North High School (SNHS) and Sacred Heart School represented Sioux Lookout on a large stage, participating in the Ontario Winter Games and OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) tournaments.
The OFSAA wrestling tournament took place from March 2 to 4 in Sault Ste. Marie, and the Ontario Winter Games took place from Feb. 27 to March 2 in Orillia.
Some of the wrestlers qualified and participated at both tournaments, and they all echoed a similar enjoyment and excitement from their time at the tournaments.
“The Ontario Winter Games was really exciting and fun. I got my first win, and it was an adrenaline rush… I can’t wait for next year, and I’m determined to make it to OFSAA,” said Ashton Lapworth, grade nine SNHS student.
“The match he had was an absolute war. It was crazy… In the first round he was down 8-0 and at ten points it would’ve been over. He stormed back in the second round and won the match. It was an amazing comeback,” said Rob Sakamoto, Warriors wrestling coach.
“It was my first year wrestling, and it was awesome. I went to OFSAA. I took some losses, but it made me stronger and it made me want to try harder next year. I’ll be training real hard,” said Tyson Meekis, grade 11 SNHS student.
“Making OFSAA after trying for four years was a really good accomplishment for me because I’ve been at it for a while now. Finally making it in my last year was amazing, and the experience there was great… It went really well for me, and it was a lot of fun… Being there and having my boots touch the mat was everything for me,” said Serena Anderson, grade 12 SNHS student.
“Going to both those tournaments was pretty awesome. The Ontario Winter Games prepped me for OFSAA… I lost both my matches at OFSAA, but I did win a match at the Ontario Winter Games. It was an awesome experience, and I had so much fun,” said Keegan Wesley, grade ten SNHS student.
“I’m going to try again next year, and comeback even harder,” he said.
“Both tournaments were really fun. It was a lot of travelling… They’re such big tournaments, and I’m going to try to get back to them next year,” Kiana Barker, grade ten SNHS student.
“The Ontario Winter Games was super fun and exciting, and we got to meet a bunch of new people from all over the place… I’m looking forward to continuing wrestling as I head into high school next year,” said Omi Sakamoto, grade eight student at Sacred Heart School.
“It (the Ontario Winter Games) was super fun and a good experience because I got to meet new people and wrestle against great competitors,” said Evan Burch, grade seven student at Sacred Heart School.
Sakamoto shared the pride he felt as he watched the wrestlers participate in, and experience, the tournaments. He said the group showed a lot of heart and courage during what he described as an amazing learning experience.
“I’m really proud of this group. There was no backing down at all. They went out there, they were so excited, and they just wanted to get their hands on their opponents,”
“I really do believe that you either win or you learn. I feel personally, and as an ex-wrestler, that you learn more from your losses then you do from your wins. When you lose, you have to re-evaluate and you have to make changes. For someone to lose and comeback, that takes courage, especially when it’s one-on-one and there’s no excuses. I’m super proud of all the athletes.
“I think it’s an amazing experience for the kids. I think it builds resiliency. It’s a combat sport so it’s not an easy sport, and I think it took a lot of courage for those kids to step on those mats because at OFSAA there’s 1200 wrestlers and the Ontario Winter Games was far from home in Barrie and also has elite-level athletes. I see it as a win just to have the courage to go out there and compete, so I think it’s an amazing experience for them,” he explained.
The elementary wrestling program was scheduled to start following March Break, on March 26, at SNHS, but, due to school closures and concerns regarding COVID-19, the program has been postponed until further notice.
For more information, or to stay up to date, visit their Facebook page Warrior Wrestling Club-Sioux Lookout.