Three Glendale High School wrestlers will be competing at the OFSAA Wrestling Championships in Brampton, March 1-3.
Ben Harvey (72 kg) and Christian Leliveld (64 kg) both won WOSSAA silver medals, and Hunter Tandy (77 kg) took home WOSSAA gold at London Beal on Feb. 17. The top two in each weight division qualified for the provincial high school championships.
"Hunter was actually the outstanding wrestler of the tournament, too," noted Glendale wrestling coach Lloyd Renken. "At the previous (TVRA) qualifier he was actually tied for outstanding wrestler and the coaches had to break the tie - they picked another wrestler. So he (Tandy) has had a couple good weeks."
Six Gemini wrestlers competed at WOSSAA, including 51-kg Jacob Bailey, Denika Waite (64 kg) and Victoria Kyriakopoulos (67.5 kg).
"Denika challenged to go to OFSAA because she came in third, but she lost the challenge.
"Victoria (Grade 11) was in a pool of five girls, and three of them were tied with the same 3-1 record. Victoria actually beat the eventual champion, but lost to another girl 10-8, who had four years experience. Victoria's only wrestled for two-and-a-half months. She's always in great position, never gives up that good position or rarely does. It's something you can teach, but kids don't always get it. She was so close."
The Gemini wrestling team started the season with 15-plus wrestlers, and still had 13-14 going into the Christmas break.
"I find that for the most part, the ones who really stick with it are the ones that want to be here, that made the decision on their own. Particularly when they develop some skills and then they realize it seems to be working.
"So it was a small group, but it was a great group of kids," said Renken.
Leliveld, in Grade 11, had four matches at WOSSAA, not including a first-round bye.
"My first match, it wasn't very tough, I think it was 12-2," said Leliveld. "Then I had my next match maybe an hour-and-a-half later. He was pretty good - he was a first-year actually, but he was beating me 6-1. I came back, beating him by one point 7-6. There was about 40 seconds left in the match and I was up by one, and he scored two. With about six seconds left in the match I got him in a lucky re-roll for two points and won 9-8."
That advanced him to the final where he met his match in a 10-0 loss.
"He was pretty good. I thought I was done, but I got challenged by third place. But I shut him out pretty good, 10-0."
At OFSAA, Leliveld said his goal is to be on the podium.
"A medal would be great... I don't know too much about the wrestlers going there, but one for sure is the guy who beat me (at WOSSAA). So my goal is to at least score some points on him. I did get in on him, one shot that would have been two or four points... but he threw me over, a re-roll, so he got those points. But I did get in on him once, so I definitely think I can do it again. Learn from my mistakes in that match. He's beatable, that's for sure."
Harvey, in Grade 12, will be returning to OFSSA for the first time since Grade 10 when he finished tied for 9th.
"This year I hope to do better than that," said Harvey. "I expect to better than that at least, but I hope to win... plan to win. We'll see what happens.
"Just being there before, you have the experience. The warming up, the big crowds - there's a lot of people there - and it helps if you've done it before. And just general grappling experience."
Harvey made it count at his final WOSSAA tournament.
"The first two (WOSSAA) matches were pretty easy," said Harvey. "Had a pretty tough one in the finals against a guy I lost to once, and beat once. So it was kind of a tossup, but I ended up losing. I made some little mistakes and he capitalized."
Tandy recently competed at the Ontario Juvenile Wrestling Championships where he placed fifth.
"It was good exposure for him, and gave him an idea of what OFSAA might be like," said Renken. "Especially the quarter-final and semifinal rounds, and finals."
The Grade 12 wrestler had hoped to wrestle an opponent from provincials at WOSSAA.
"He ended up getting beat in the last couple seconds of his match," said Tandy. "I was looking forward to that, that would have been a tough one. The other guy got lucky, actually. In the last couple seconds he threw him."
Undefeated in four matches at WOSSAA, Tandy has come a long, long ways from his Grade 9 debut in high school wrestling.
"In Grade 9, I didn't even make WOSSAA. There were six people in my division at TVRA and I placed last. I didn't win one match. Only the Top 5 moved on."
In Grade 10, he thought he had a chance to to qualify for OFSAA.
"I had a (WOSSAA) challenge match against Ben, because I got third. But he ended up winning 10-0. And Grade 11, it was a disaster... it was bad. We both got beat out (at WOSSAA).
"Most things have come naturally to me, sort of, but this (wrestling) was a lot harder. So I joined the Western club in the summer. It really opened the eye because those guys are intense. It really ups your game."
The Ontario Juvenile championships in Brampton, one week before the TVRA tournament, were a step up, said Tandy.
"In high school, the first couple matches are 10-0, and in the last ones nobody gets points. But there (Juvenile Championships), every match I had was like 18-16, 15-13... every match was close. But it felt like I should have done better. The guy who finished third, I beat him 12-2 at Western the last time we wrestled. But I started off, the morning was ruined. I fell back asleep after I woke up, didn't have a shower, didn't eat breakfast, just completely out of it. It felt like I threw it away."
At OFSAA, Tandy said his goal is Top 6.
"Mentally, I'm trying to prepare myself for Top 3."