The Rick Hansen Hurricanes boys wrestling team is serving notice they won’t surrender their provincial crown without a fight.
The Hurricanes, who won the B.C. high school team title in 2011, lapped the field at the Upper Fraser Valley zone championships at W.J. Mouat Secondary on Saturday. They racked up 99 points to easily out-distance the host Hawks, who finished second with 66 points.
“It was a great tournament for us – the boys wrestled really well,” summarized Hansen head coach Sucha Mann. “We’re definitely in the race (for another B.C. title), but we’ve got a few obstacles.”
Mann said a pair of Burnaby schools – perennial powerhouse Burnaby Central and St. Thomas More – figure to provide the toughest competition at provincials, which run Feb. 23-25 in Penticton.
But there isn’t a weak link in Mann’s roster of elite grapplers. Eight Hansen athletes qualified for provincials, and Mann believes all of them have a shot at the podium.
Four Hurricanes won gold at the zone meet, headlined by Jobanjit Phulka. A two-time provincial medallist (gold in 2010, silver in 2011), Phulka has been dominating the 78 kilogram class this season, and he beat Brookswood’s Stephen Kaita in the final. Harman Basra (51 kg), Justin Gill (66 kg) and Manveer Gill (84 kg) also climbed to the top step of the podium.
PLENTY OF DEPTH, TALENT IN ABBOTSFORD
The local wrestling scene is as strong as ever – five finals on the boys side were all-Abbotsford clashes, illustrating a remarkable amount of depth.
Those matches included MEI’s Dave Sharma beating schoolmate Nav Dhillon at 45 kg; Mouat’s Amrit Benning topping Hansen’s Maneet Klair at 54 kg; Mouat’s Amrit Sund taking down Yale’s Matt Dignan at 57 kg; Justin Gill beating his Hansen teammate Baldeep Gill at 66 kg; and Manveer Gill of the Hurricanes beating MEI’s Rajin Gill at 84 kg.
Other local gold medallists included Manny Gill, a three-time provincial champ from Abby Collegiate, winning at 74 kg, and Mouat’s Amrit Sund triumphing at 57 kg. Teji Kullar of Abby Traditional, the lone male grappler at 41 kg, won by default.
On the girls’ side, two locals took gold – Pooja Batra of the Howe Bulldogs at 47 kg, and Monisha Bajwa of the Yale Lions at 75 kg.
Guildford Park of Surrey won the girls’ team title with 28 points, edging Maple Ridge and Heritage Park, both of whom posted 24 points.