By Martin Cleary
The two-day OFSAA wrestling championships, which opened Tuesday at the TD Place Arena, are more than just the provincial high school championships for amateur athletes with a craving for circling, attacking, lifting and pinning their opponents.
The championships also are making an important statement about some current issues of the day, surrounding equality, Indigenous recognition and bilingualism.
For what is possibly a world first, the number of weight classes will be identical in two respects for the boys and girls, which is unlike amateur wrestling at the Olympic and world championship levels.
The provincial championships will be presented in English and French, which was only done one other time – when the meet also was staged in Ottawa in 2019 under the direction of returning co-convenors Jason Kirby and Guy MacDougall of Cairine Wilson Secondary School.
Mohawk and Dutch hip-hop artist Elberlyn Gerritson Hill will be the featured singer before the gold-medal finals on Wednesday. She will perform two songs from her new album in conjunction with two First Nations dancers.
“We’re focused on growing the sport,” Kirby said in a recent phone interview.
The biggest change in playing host to their second OFSAA wrestling championships was to put the girls on par with the boys.
Both genders have 17 weight classes, which meant there was four new additions for the girls – 38, 89, 95 and over-115 kilograms. One weight division returned from 2016 for the boys – over-130 kilograms.
The girls and boys will compete in 15 matching weight categories – 38, 41, 44, 47.5, 51, 54, 57.5, 61, 64, 67.5, 72, 77, 83, 89 and 95 kilograms. In the two heaviest categories, the girls will compete at 115 kilograms and over-115 kilograms, while the boys will wrestle at 130 kilograms and over-130 kilograms.
While the men and women freestyle wrestlers at the world championships have 10 weight classes apiece, they are not matching weights. The women range from 50 kilograms to 76 kilograms, while the men span from 57 kilograms to 125 kilograms. At the Olympics, the men and women fight in only six classes each with no matching weight divisions.
“Traditionally, the (high school) girls didn’t have equal opportunities as the boys,” Kirby added. “In the past, there were 16 boys’ weight classes and 13 for girls.
“This year, we made the rule change and the weight classes will be the same. As far as I am aware, we’re the first jurisdiction to do this globally.”
Kirby took the proposal to OFSAA officials last September and it was unanimously accepted.
“No one was against it. The coaches were pleasantly surprised,” he added. “The girls are happy to be included.”
The OFSAA wrestling championships also are being presented using both English and French, which is reflected in the event’s logo, announcements, draw sheets and clothing.
“Prior to doing OFSAA the first time, the wrestling championships were not a bilingual championship,” Kirby explained. “It’s important to recognize both official languages.
“Our school is a French Immersion school. It was obviously a no-brainer. I’m perplexed we’re the first (to do it).”
More than 1,000 matches took place on Tuesday in a nine-hour span on 10 competitive mats covering the TD Place Arena floor.
The final four athletes in each of the 34 weight classes have been determined and they will fight for the medals Wednesday.
The National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association sent a team of 70 athletes to OFSAA and three have qualified for the semifinals:
· Maria Castillo, Lester B. Pearson, girls’ 89 kilograms, two byes, one win, scheduled to face Abagail Cornell of Georgetown District High School (GHAC).
· Mary Ofili, St. Francis Xavier, girls’ 115-plus kilograms, two byes, one win, scheduled to face Jacklyn Iacoboni, St. Joseph’s, SWOSS.
· Mitch Valius Cowan, Sir Robert Borden, boys’ 64 kilograms, three wins, scheduled to face Brayden Segeren, Ursuline College, SWOSS.
ASHBURY CAPTURES 11 MEDALS AT OFSAA ALPINE SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ashbury Colts won a team medal in seven of eight categories and also posted four top-three individual results at the OFSAA alpine skiing championships at Osler Bluff Ski Club.
In the high school division, Ashbury compiled the lowest placement point total in both the boys and girls’ slalom and giant slalom divisions for a total of four gold medals.
Individually, the Colts’ Waka Raina won the high school boys’ slalom and placed second in the giant slalom, while Kaari Hall earned silver in both of the girls’ technical races.
Hall, Ella Beltran, Ally Noble, Sophia Mrak and Abigail Mulroney skied for the Ashbury girls’ high school team, while the boys’ high school squad had Raina, Andrew Noble, Chetan Yemm, Thomas Cuhaci and Laurier Sullivan.
Ashbury also scored team silver medals in the open class slalom and giant slalom races by the boys’ team of Tommy Staples, Jackson Kunstadt-Landon, Jack Bon, Will Meldrum and Jed Cudney.
The open girls’ roster of Mathilde Dufort, Georgia Davidson, Sienna Jennings, Eva Sieburg and Sophie Boyce earned the team bronze in slalom.
South Carleton’s Nic Brien was the high school boys’ silver medallist in slalom.
NICHOLAS ROY EARNS SILVER MEDAL AT OFSAA SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ashbury Colts placed eighth overall in the combined team standings with 541 points at the OFSAA swimming championships. Georgetown District High School was first at 1,209 points.
Nicholas Roy of Ashbury was the only swimmer from the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association to earn a medal, when he took silver in the boys’ 14-and-under, short-course, 50-metre butterfly in 30.69 seconds.
BÉATRICE-DESLOGES, FRANCO-CITÉ IN OFSAA GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALL MEDAL HUNT
Béatrice-Desloges and Franco-Cité are two wins each away from winning the gold medal in their respective divisions at the OFSAA girls’ volleyball championships.
After going undefeated in its girls’ AA preliminary pool at 4-0 by winning all eight games, Béatrice-Desloges outlasted St. Joseph-Scollard Hall 25-15, 25-23, 21-25, 25-13 in its quarterfinal in St. Catharines.
Looking for its first provincial title in 15 years, Franco-Cité defeated Gonzaga 23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-20 in the girls’ AAA volleyball championship in Barrie.
Franco-Cité finished second in its preliminary pool at 3-1.
ASHBURY REACHES OFSAA BOYS’ AA BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTERFINAL
Fourth-seeded Ashbury was scheduled to play No. 5 St. Ignatius in its Tuesday night quarterfinal at the OFSAA boys’ AA basketball championship in Belle River.
Ashbury qualified for the final eight by defeating No. 18 Belle River 64-29 and No. 7 Emery 63-45.
At the boys’ AAA basketball championship tournament in Sarnia, 14th-seeded St. Patrick’s posted one win and two losses.
After losing to No. 4 seed St. Michael’s College 58-44, St. Patrick’s defeated No. 17 Eastside 80-27. The Fighting Irish lost its third game 74-64 to No. 2 Ursuline College, after leading at the three quarter breaks (18-16, 44-37 and 58-55).
Notre Dame, the 13th seed, also recorded a 1-2 record at the OFSAA boys’ A basketball championship in Timmins.
The west Ottawa school lost to No. 7 Timmins 45-41, defeated No. 20 Guido De Bres Christian 61-37 and fell to No. 4 George Harvey 67-54.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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