The Mouat Hawks boys wrestling team posed with the B.C. championship banner and trophy after Saturday’s triumph.

The Mouat Hawks boys wrestling team posed with the B.C. championship banner and trophy after Saturday’s triumph.

Mouat wrestlers win provincial title

Year in and year out, the boys wrestling team at W.J. Mouat Secondary has been in B.C.'s upper echelon.

Year in and year out, the boys wrestling team at W.J. Mouat Secondary has been in B.C.’s upper echelon.

But until Saturday, a provincial title had eluded them.

The Hawks broke through at the B.C. high school wrestling championships in Duncan, racking up 61 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Lord Tweedsmuir of Surrey (49 points) in the aggregate standings.

In the aftermath, longtime Mouat coach Jim Mitchell termed the outcome “a bit of a surprise.” The Hawks had won the Upper Fraser Valley title, but going into the provincial meet, he wasn’t sure his team had the depth to get the job done.

But Mouat got points from six of their 14 male wrestlers at the B.C.’s.

“We’ve been top 10 (on the boys side) for the last 10 years,” noted Mitchell, whose girls team won a provincial title in 2010. “I knew we’d be better this year, but I wasn’t sure we’d have enough points to make it happen.

“It feels great.”

Amrit Benning and Nishan Randhawa led the way for the Hawks, winning individual gold medals. Benning, a Grade 11 grappler, avenged a defeat to Burnaby South’s Melvin Arciaga in the 2012 finals, beating him in two rounds, and was named the most outstanding male wrestler of the tournament.

“He’s a great kid, probably one of the best wrestlers we’ve ever had here in terms of the whole picture – his talent, and he’s a team leader,” Mitchell said of Benning. “He’s fairly quiet, but he kind of wrestles angry. He’s very focused.”

Randhawa finished atop a 78 kg boys division which was remarkably Abbotsford-centric – the Grade 10 athlete defeated Devin Purewal of the Yale Lions in the final, and Abby Traditional’s Sukh Sidhu picked up the bronze.

Mouat’s Austin Batra (silver, 84 kg) and Pavan Sangha (bronze, 45 kg) also climbed the podium, while Davinder Gill (fifth, 51 kg) and Gagan Sangha (sixth, 66 kg) scored key points for the Hawks via top-six finishes.

Three other Abbotsford boys teams also finished in the top 10. The two-time defending champion Rick Hansen Hurricanes tied for fifth with 38 points, followed by the MEI Eagles (eighth, 31 points) and the Yale Lions (ninth, 28 points).

Hansen teammates Justin Gill and Jobanjit Phulka repeated as gold medallists – Gill won at 70 kg, and Phulka beat Batra in the 84 kg final.

“Joban dominated – nobody scored a point on him,” Hurricanes coach Sucha Mann said.

“Justin had some tough matches, but he got through them. It wasn’t easy, but he did what we expected.”

MEI’s Dave Sharma and Yale’s Matt Dignan also won gold medals for the second straight year. Sharma was tops in the 54 kg division, while Dignan won the 57 kg title.

Navdeep Toor, a Grade 8 phenom with the Eugene Reimer Ravens, won gold at 41 kg, while MEI’s Rajan Gill rounded out the list of local medallists with a silver at 90 kg.

With Benning and Randhawa, among others, set to return next year, Mouat has a great chance at defending its B.C. crown.

“Both our gold medallists are back, so if we get a couple more in there, we could have another shot at it,” Mitchell noted.

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