A pair of Ranchero Elementary School wrestlers got their first taste of competition at the national level.
Sam Muddiman and Kynan Dicker both qualified to compete in the Canadian High School Wrestling Championships, which took place in Vancouver March 23-25.
Kynan brought home a bronze medal, while Sam finished sixth in his weight class. The experience itself was a win for them both.
“I really can’t believe I got to go to the nationals! I never thought I’d make it that far,” said Kynan in a School District 83 media release.
“It was great,” added Sam.
Ranchero Teacher and coach Duane Kroeker is also proud of the boys’ achievements, saying this is the first time he’s had two wrestlers in one class make it to nationals.
“That’s pretty rare and it couldn’t happen to two nicer kids,” remarked Kroeker.
After qualifying in provincials in March, the two grade 8 students increased their training schedule to practice five times a week, three times with Kroeker and twice a week in Kelowna with the Spartan Wrestling Club.
Sam and Kynan were impressed by the national competition experience at Canada Place in Vancouver. They said they had to have photo ID to get in and security guards were pretty strict.
“Canada Place with the sails and ocean was amazing,” said Kynan.
To avoid becoming unnerved by the magnitude of the event, the boys focused on the task at hand.
“I tried not to think about it and concentrated on what I had to do,” said Sam.
“I focused on going in confident,” added Kynan.
As the students compete in weight classes, so can be from Grade 8 to 12.
“The guy who won first place was really buff and tall,” said Kynan.” “I didn’t wrestle him but he looked really good.”
Kynan’s one loss was to the wrestler who won the silver medal.
Sam and Kynan were encouraged to start wrestling after hearing Kroeker talk about the club at school. Both plan to continue wrestling when they go to the Jackson campus. The two gave a big thanks to Kroeker and the other coaches who helped them, including Greg Seed and Gerry Beauregard (who coach the Shuswap Middle School, Jackson, and Sullivan wrestlers) and the Kelowna Spartan coaches.
Kroeker said wrestling is a challenging sport, and a great way to build strength and fitness for other sports. He said his program and the high school team are active and encourage participation by both girls and boys. He noted at last year’s B.C. finals, Eve Maxwell, a Grade 12 student at the time at Salmon Arm Secondary, captured a gold medal, Most Outstanding Match, and Most Outstanding Athlete at the BC High School Wrestling Championships.
Kroeker said he has a mat that could be shared with another school if there is a teacher interested in starting a wrestling team. He said it would be nice to have more teams so that there could be more competition locally, instead of having to do so much travelling.
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