By Darren Lum
Published Dec. 4 2018
There won’t be any love lost when the Red Hawks wrestling team hosts a tournament on Valentine’s Day this year.
This season’s lone wrestling tournament at the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School is on Feb. 14 and will provide seeding for the top-four places at the COSSA championship in Belleville a week after.
Coach Dan Fockler who is sharing the coaching duties of the Hawks team with long-time friend and colleague Paul Klose said he expects the field of competitors to be very deep and talented due to the seeding component.
“It should be a good tournament” he said.
Wrestlers who don’t compete are likely to face a top seed in their opening match during COSSA.
Other years the Hawks hosted the Haliburton Highlands Wrestling Invitational. Last year the school hosted COSSA for the first time.
With just three female wrestlers and close to a dozen male wrestlers the team’s roster is not as deep as other years when there has been more than 20.
“It goes in waves” he said.
Five wrestlers have three plus years of experience while several are Grade 9 wrestlers
The boys will for the most part represent the Hawks in many of the weight classes.
This starts at 47.5 kilograms (up two weight classes from the lowest) and up to 95 kilograms.
“We hit a lot of the weight classes on the way up [to the highest weight class of 130 kilograms] which is nice” he said.
None of the girls on the team will have to wrestle each other he said. They are each representing a different weight class which includes 51 61 and 74 kilograms. It’s an ideal situation he adds.
Fockler didn’t know what the reason was for the lower turnout but said there is a benefit to a smaller team.
“They get a bit more mat time when there are not as many so the silver lining might be the results at the end of the season might be a little better because they got more mat time. They’re not taking shifts to get on the mat” he said.
Although there haven’t been any formal requests from alumni to help coach Fockler believes there is a good chance someone will stop by during the post-secondary school break coming up.
Last year the Hawks sent several wrestlers to the all-provincials.
Included in this group were senior Aidan Coles and Grade 11 wrestler Nic Graham.
They return to the team after earning OFSAA berths last year. Coles in the 95 kilogram class and Graham for the cadet class.
Although Graham lost his matches he gained invaluable experience at the highest level. Coles set a school record for male wrestlers getting on the podium with a fourth place at the all-provincials. It was an improvement on his 2017 trip when he finished with four wins and two losses to end up in the top eight. He also won the sportsmanship award the Officials Award for Sportsmanship.
Another veteran of the group is Grade 12 Austin Weller who has wrestled for three years with the team but has never made it to the all-provincials so OFSAA is foremost on his mind.
“I hope I go to OFSAA” he said.
He stuck with the team in Grade 10 after starting but not finishing the season with the team in Grade 9.
Weller hopes to improve on his finish last year by earning a berth to the all-provincials after missing out with a fourth place at COSSA which take the top two (unless a “challenge” is made).
Weller is using this Valentine’s Day home tournament as an incentive to not just do well in front of family but to drive him in practice to achieve a strong seeding at COSSA so he can achieve his dream.
He is excited at the opportunity a home tournament gives him which is a showcase.
“I like it a lot more. It’s kind of motivation” he said.