Last month, the Okanagan - Zone 2 Wrestling team attended the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley.
The 13-member team included wrestlers from Kamloops, Kelowna and Lillooet, formed through try-outs in June.
Six Lillooet athletes qualified to attend the games: James Kerslake, Kiya John, Alexis Abramson, Ayden Harrison, Reece Copeland and Everett Rasmussen. The Zone 2 team was headed by Kamloops’ Claire Convington, assisted by Lillooet’s Dave Remple.
The BC Games Wrestling championship was a fast-paced, exciting event that brought top wrestlers from across the province into fierce competition. The Games were an exceptional experience for these young athletes, kicked off with Lillooet’s own Kiya John being tapped to carry the Zone 2 banner, leading more than 400 athletes from 18 different sports into the opening ceremonies.
Kiya John said competing in her first year as a wrestler against the best in B.C. at the Summer Games was “a little scary.
“But, being able to meet new people and having that amazing bond with the team, I had an awesome time. I can’t wait to put this experience and the things I learned to use in future seasons.”
Coaches, officials and fans were impressed with the Zone 2 crew, who demonstrated athleticism, grit and an impressive show of teamwork over the two days of competition. Each time a Zone 2 wrestler stepped on the mat, all 13 teammates could be seen encouraging from ringside.
That support from teammates is something Ayden Harrison will remember.
“In 30 years, I probably won’t remember the wrestling that took place during the Games. I will, however, remember the athleticism and the support of my team who accompanied me there. The Games would not have been the same without them,” said Harrison. “I hope that by going to these games and sharing my experiences it will encourage the next generation of athletes to do so as well. I know that they will have an amazing time as well.”
In addition to two full days of fierce wrestling competition, athletes attended a number of social events, clinics and team functions.
Everett Rasmussen commented, “I’ve never been to a sporting event and been on a team that had so much fun without the sport. The wrestling was an added bonus and I will never forget it, but mostly I will remember the people I met and the friendships that I made.”
At tournament’s end, the team brought home two medals, including a 51 kg. bronze won by Lillooet’s own James Kerslake. Most importantly, the wrestlers returned with vital experience against the province’s top athletes as they look ahead to next season’s provincial championships.
The athletes had an absolute blast, challenging themselves against tough opponents and taking every opportunity to learn, grow and improve in the process. We also built some strong friendships with our Kamloops and Kelowna teammates. We can’t wait to get back out on the mat with them soon as we look to continue building a community around this fantastic sport.