By Larry Moko
The future of the Bishop Ryan Celtics high school wrestling program was on display at BR’s Joe Di Trapani Gymnasium Wednesday.
About 130 boys and girls from eight Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic elementary schools showed their stuff on the mats during the annual Bishop Ryan Feeder Wrestling Championships.
“Wrestling around is kind of ingrained in us as human beings,” Celtics coach Sheldon Francis said in an interview during a break in the action. “It’s one of the oldest sports.
“Young kids especially just want to tussle with each other. It’s a natural thing.”
To introduce newcomers to the basics of wrestling, Bishop Ryan athletes are sent to feeder schools during the course of the year. And according to Francis, it’s easier to spark the interest of students at BR’s feeder affiliates because many of them and their teachers already know the impressive history of Bishop Ryan high school wrestling.
Still, there are misconceptions about the sport. Many think it’s like the wild action they see on television – professional WWE wrestling.
“That’s what usually gets kids out,” Francis said with a smile. “But then, as they start to wrestle, we shape their technique and their energy. They start to get an appreciation for the sport.”
Francis is a Bishop Ryan graduate, a former university wrestling star at McMaster and a Canadian national age-group coach.
“When kids first come out we just let them go and wrestle for the first little bit and then we start to curtail them,” he said. “The line that I always use when I work with little kids is ‘I don’t want to corrupt them with technique.’”
While having fun is important, safety is also stressed and demonstrated.
Francis praised the efforts of Mark Walter from St. Bernadette, a former BR wrestler who, on a team field trip, came out with his students to watch the Celtics at the recent Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championships in Milton.
“His kids are engaged, energetic and trained well,” Francis said.
First-place finishers in the boys’ division were: Noah Sharpen, St. Eugene; Wes Servedio, St. Bernadette; Brayden Audit, St. Mark; Joel Lubambala, St. Mark; Rahim Redha, St. Matthew; Colin Cheeseman, St. Bernadette; Dante Di Benedetto, St. Mark; Christopher Raab, St. Paul; Lucas Caravaggio, St. Bernadette; Cam Outrim, St. Bernadette; Mitch Leder, St. Bernadette; Isaac Maniccia, St. Bernadette; Christian Silvestri, St. Bernadette; Adam Manente, St. Bernadette; Thomas Kovacevic, St. Bernadette; Josh Ramon, St. John; Braydan Mason, St. Paul; Patrick Morgan, St. Bernadette; Wyatt Hutchinson, St. Paul; Aidan Moore, St. Luke; Matthew Shulist, St. John; Joshua Pottinger, St. Luke; John Ellison, St. Bernadette; Joseph Arruda, St. Paul.
In the girls’ category, winners were: Jessie Priaulx, St. Eugene; Miranda Anderson, St. Matthew; Serena Di Benedetto, St. Mark; Aleah Ciarmoli, St. Paul; Ashton Kolenc, St. Paul; Madison Mair, St. Mark; Jassleen Gill, St. Paul; Sydney McDonagh, St. Paul; Amelia Clarke, St. Paul; Brooklyn Lepage, St. Paul; Gina Giovannetti, St. James; Elizabeth Walsh, St. James; Emma Mihajlovic, St. Luke; Ivie Osagie, St. Mark.
The overall team title went to St. Paul. Second was St. Mary and St. Matthew came third.