Elijah Lazar is declared the winner of a preliminary match at the provincial wrestling championships at the Shaw Centre on Friday, March 3. - Image credit: Observer file photo

Salmon Arm wrestlers hit mat at nationals

Elijah Lazar and Rohan Kafle both wrestled their way to top-eight finishes at nationals

Two Salmon Arm Secondary wrestlers are in the top eight in the country for their respective weight classes.

Elijah Lazar and Rohan Kafle each competed at high school wrestling nationals in Windsor, Ont. after strong showings at the BC provincials held in Salmon Arm in early March.

Lazar, wrestling at 42 kilograms, finished fourth in the country. At 50kg, Kafle placed in the top eight.

SAS wrestling head coach Ray Munsie said Lazar had a lead in his semifinal match but made a mistake and lost on points.

“When you start getting into the elite levels, on any given day if you are not bang on, if you’re not mentally sharp, if you make one mistake, game over,” he said.

Kafle dropped from the 54 to the 50 kg for nationals as the weight classes are different than they were at provincials.

“Rohan was not playing with a bunch of guppies, he was in there against the toughest there is in our country,” Munsie said.

In both wrestling and other aspects of their lives, Munsie says the future is very bright for both Lazar and Kafle.

Both young wrestlers are in the same age bracket next year.

“When they’ve got another year of training under their belt, holy moly, these kids are going to be awesome, both of them,” Munsie said.

He said next season they will focus more on mental preparation for matches for Lazar and also incorporate weight training in the off season to further improve his impressive pound-for-pound strength.

Munsie said training camps Lazar and Kafle attended last off season were a big part of their success this year and he hopes to send them to more over the summer.

The standout performances at provincials and nationals will go a long way to getting Kafle and Lazar noticed by universities according to Munsie.

“When you’re in the top echelon, university coaches know who you are. And by next year, they will know the kids’ grade-point averages especially Rohan because he graduates next year. We will start getting inquiries about him this summer,” he said. “Elijah’s lowest mark is 92 per cent he’s going to have post secondary institutions lining up to pay his way.”