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OHS wrestlers focused on rural provincials

It will be a busy couple of weeks for Olds wrestlers, but luckily they'll be doing it all on their home mats.

It will be a busy couple of weeks for Olds wrestlers, but luckily they'll be doing it all on their home mats.

This weekend the OHS Spartans wrestling club will be hosting the Junior Olympics and South Elementary Festival in the Health and Wellness Centre at the Ralph Klein Centre while next weekend they host the Alberta Schools' Athletics Association rural provincials at the very same venue.

And while the club has only five senior high members and two from Deer Meadow School hopes are this weekend's event ñ that'll feature up to 350 competitors ñ can serve as a drawing point for the sport locally, particularly with a family open house being run at the fitness centre at the same time.

ìWe're hoping that we can use it to drum up some interest,î explained wrestling coach George Grant.

There will be two competitors from Olds involved in the Junior Olympics, but all five of the senior high competitors will be in action on the weekend of Feb. 25-26 when the club co-hosts rural provincials along with Wetaskiwin Composite.

Grant said the senior high team, which features four rookies, has rapidly progressed since training began in late November to the point where all but one of the competitors finished the recent University of Alberta High School tournament with at least one win.

With the top five in each weight category moving on to the full ASAA provincial tournament, he expects to be taking a full complement of wrestlers to Stony Plain two weeks later.

ìI expect all of them to advance to provincials,î Grant suggested of the group that includes Sarah Hunder, Marissa Lecroix, Shayley Harris, Amber Maschke and the only male competitor Garrett Adcock.

However there is one wrestler that he expects to be in the hunt for a place on the podium at both events.

ìObviously we have higher expectations out of Amber,î Grant said of his latest talented female wrestler.

Despite only being in Grade 10 and her first year of competitive senior high wrestling, Maschke is a veteran of the sport, having competed the past two years at the age group nationals.

So far this year she has a pair of bronze medals against top competition considering high school wrestling is an open event in terms of age and grouped only by weight class.

ìI'm just hoping to do well,î Maschke explained. ìI don't expect to get gold or first place but just to make it to provincials and place there.î

The step up to the higher level of competition at the senior high level is something that the small but powerful grappler is relishing. Having been a dominant wrestler at the junior high level she's eager to prove herself at the next step.

ìI am doing better than I did last year, even though the medals don't say that, but I do think I am getting better,î Maschke suggested. ìYou wrestle tougher people and that way know how good you are. When you're on the higher end you don't really know how good you are whereas if you're on the lower end you kind of know whether you're improving or not.î

As the only veteran on the wrestling team, Maschke doesn't necessarily see herself as a leader, but she's willing to impart any of the experience she's gained thus far in her brief career.

ìI can tell when most of the moves are being done right, I can't do them all right but I do know when they are being done wrong and I can point it out what they're doing wrong even though I can't demonstrate them all,î she said.

Grant said all the team members are excited at the prospect of hosting rural provincials and to show off the new facility that features their new purpose-built room in the northeast corner of the health and wellness centre.

For the two weekends of competition, the mats will be brought out to the main gymnasium for spectator viewing with several rings going on at the same time.

The opportunity to co-host rural provincials ñ which features competitors from all schools other than the two major cities ñ came about when Wetaskiwin couldn't secure a venue for the event. So while the northern school will handle entries and logistics, Olds will offer up the venue.

ìWe've got the physical building and we're eager to show it off,î said Grant.