Young wrestlers at home
for national championship
By Ned Bekavac
Cody Airdrie has been there.
“It was nerve-wracking, definitely,” he recalls, of being a teen and competing on the Canadian national wrestling stage.
Airdrie got the job done, winning a gold medal almost a decade ago at the national cadet wrestling championships.
Today, he has a message for the young wrestlers he is mentoring heading into this week’s 2014 Cadet and Juvenile Canadian Wrestling Championships right here in Guelph.
“You just tell them: ‘Just treat it like any other tournament. You have to go out there with confidence, trust yourself, trust your coaches and trust your abilities,’” says Airdrie, a Centennial CVI graduate and current Guelph Junior Wrestling Club coach.
“And just treat everybody as if they’re just another wrestler.”
Athletes from the Guelph Junior Wrestling Club are gearing up to compete at the national championships, which start Friday at the University of Guelph’s Gryphon Fieldhouse.
Approximately 650 wrestlers from across the country are competing, says Airdrie. (The juvenile event is for those aged 17-18, and the cadet for those aged 15-16.)
Airdrie is asked if he has huge hopes for any particular wrestler from the local club.
He names one. Then another. And a third.
“The list goes on, I could go through them all,” he says, smiling.
One of them, Alexander Chaves, sees this week as not only a huge event for the present, but also a massive stepping stone for the future.
He’s asked if the upcoming championship is the biggest wrestling event of his life, and he answers philosophically.
“Hopefully not. Hopefully there will be bigger,” he says.
Chaves, a Grade 12 student at Guelph CVI who won a bronze medal at the recent OFSAA championship, has his sights set on a top finish at nationals.
While he has seen the who’s who of Ontario wrestlers at various competitions, wrestling at the national level can bring an extra, unknown element to things.
“You know what you’re going into Ontario-wise,” Chaves says.
“But other places . . . you hear things, you hear that there are other good kids outside of the province. So it’s kind of tough, but you just gotta go in with the right mind-set.”
He admits that tonight (Thursday), the night before the big show, might be tough for him.
“Usually I have problems sleeping (the night before a big wrestling tournament) but I’m feeling pretty good about it. Hopefully I can keep the nerves down and get a good night sleep,” says Chaves, whose brother Simon, a Grade 10 Guelph CVI student, is also competing at nationals.
Weigh-ins take place today, and after that the local team is hitting Montana’s Cookhouse for some grub and, hopefully, some relaxation.
“We’re going out for a nice dinner, and to kind of just calm the nerves,” says Airdrie.
The coach says his wrestlers, who are representing Ontario at the event, are excited to get things going, and that having the tournament in the Royal City is a huge bonus. It’s nice for them to sleep in their own beds, he says, and not having to change time zones is a boon too.
“The kids are all ready, they’re pretty gung ho,” says Airdrie.
• • •
Guelph Junior Wrestling Club athletes scheduled to compete at the national championships here this week are:
• Alexander Chaves (Juvenile 69kg)
• Simon Chaves (Cadet 63kg)
• Ron Preston (Cadet 46kg)
• Mathura Puwaneshwaran (Juvenile 44kg)
• Jackson Taylor (Cadet 63kg)
• Jocelyn Dunsmoor (Cadet 60kg)
• Taylor Karn (Juvenile 63kg)
• Nick Karn (Juvenile 63kg)
• Rylie George (Cadet 44kg)
• Cody Shepperd (Juvenile 50kg)
• Matt Humphrey (Juvenile 76kg)
• Ryan Little (Juvenile 76kg)
• Hannah Little (Cadet 52kg)
• • •
The 2014 Cadet and Juvenile Canadian Wrestling Championships are organized by the Guelph Wrestling Club, in collaboration with Ontario Amateur Wrestling Association, as sanctioned by Wrestling Canada.
Action gets underway on Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. Gold medal matches are scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The FILA (the governing body of international amateur wrestling) cadet trials and Greco-Roman wrestling take place on Sunday, starting at 10 a.m.