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Saanich wrestler gold at provincials

Saanich's martial arts sisters continue rise in wrestling
Zena Shew

Saanich super sisters Zena, 13, and Kiana Shew, 16, both hit the podium at the B.C. High School Wrestling Championships in Salmon Arm over the weekend.

It’s just the latest accolade for the sisters, with Zena winning a gold medal and Kiana placing fifth (which is good enough for a medal as the B.C. wrestling championships have a top-six podium).

Both Zena and Kiana won gold at the Island wrestling championships held at Esquimalt secondary two weeks ago.

“Zena had been waiting so long to go to B.C.’s, she was excited to go and is very happy now,” said dad Brian.

Zena, a Grade 8 student, won all five matches in the 40-kilogram category, defeating a Grade 12 for the gold. Kiana competed in a very deep 47-kg field and actually made the semifinals before falling back to fifth.

“Losing in the semifinal was disappointing for [Kiana] but still a good accomplishment,” Brian said.

The two sisters drove to Salmon Arm with their dad for the three-day meet. Kiana will now focus her attention on the  national junior wrestling championships in Windsor, Ont., April 7 to 9. Kiana won gold at the nationals in 2016, which is Greco-Roman versus the high school freestyle wrestling.

Home schooled from their Gordon Head neighbourhood, the Shews are part of the school district’s Commonwealth Bulldogs Wrestling team led by Ed Ashmore.

Ashmore, now 81, says the Shews have the kind of special talent that has only come along a few times since he started coaching wrestling in Greater Victoria in 1963.

“Zena is just so smart about it, whenever she learns a new skill she just feels it,” Ashmore said. “They’re willing to wrestle, they seem to have it in their heart and soul. They love it and not too many people are like that, except those that reach the top because they’re willing to work at it.”

The Shews train hard in karate and kickboxing, having previously won several top karate accolades, but have put those competitions on hold in the last two years in favour of a wrestling focus.

The two attended the U.S. Open in Las Vegas last year where each won two medals in fields deep with elite U.S. athletes. Kiana won gold in folkstyle (U.S. collegiate) and a bronze in freestyle while Zena won gold in freestyle and bronze in folkstyle.