Two wrestlers from the South Island competed in the National Wrestling Championships in Fredericton, N.B., last week, each picking up a bronze medal.
Matthews’ medal, though, was a bit of a surprise.
Matthews lost all three matches in the freestyle competition, slipping to seventh out of 15 in the 80-kilogram class. Not wanting to leave with nothing, Matthews entered the nationals’ Greco wrestling (no touching below the waist) tournament. It was Matthews’ first first ever competition and he was winging it, so to speak.
He lost his first match to the eventual gold medal winner, but won his next two, earning a spot on the podium.
“I had time to relax and I didn’t expect to do that well. I was just trying a different style of wrestling and seeing if I could do it. There was a lot of throws and I seemed to be good at it.”
Unfortunately, nervousness got to him in the freestyle event, which was what he’d been training for all year, Matthews said.
“If I’d have stuck to the game plan and had more patience I would have done better. I rushed my moves and didn’t set them up properly.”
It ended a solid season for Matthews who was the Island champion for his weight class and finished fourth in B.C.
For Mitchell, earning bronze in the 42-kgs class was a great result in his first appearance at nationals, but it wasn’t without a shade of disappointment. With three years of high school to go, the reigning B.C. champion has time to improve.
In Mitchell’s first match at nationals he lost to Philip Le, who went on to win gold. Mitchell won his next two matches, but bronze didn’t satisfy. He felt he should have had at least silver, which went to Torrey Toribio (North Vancouver), who Mitchell defeated at provincials in February.
Neither Matthews nor Mitchell were part of a school wrestling team. Rather, Matthews traveled into Saanich to train with the Victoria Bulldogs, while Mitchell commuted to Cowichan twice a week.