Reynolds secondary has the smallest wrestling team in town.
But it has two things most Greater Victoria schools don’t: a place to train, and willing coaches.
Because of that, they were able to host members of the only other teams, Esquimalt High and the school district Victoria Bulldogs, for training last week.
“The room could be bigger, but I’m not complaining,” said Reynolds coach Michael Cappus.
The former CIS champion came from wrestling-mad Alberni district secondary and competed for Simon Fraser University. He happens to be in town furthering his education at Camosun College and has linked up with previous Reynolds coach Josh Brakefield, a recent grad who has been instrumental in keeping the program running. They are guiding the school’s few but committed wrestlers.
“There are some more wrestlers on the team, but only the three going to provincials are still training, so this is it,” Cappus said.
Representing Reynolds at the provincial high school wrestling championships in Duncan this week, Feb. 28 and March 1, are Grade 12s Amir Harati and the Aquino brothers, Peter and Paul.
Visiting Reynolds to sharpen up for provincials were Esquimalt wrestlers Carlton Cochran and Mitchell Keeping and Oak Bay High’s John Fayad, a member of the Bulldogs.
All six have had success at tournaments and are contenders to podium in Duncan.
At the recent Island championships in Ucluelet, the Aquino brothers ended up facing each other for gold in the 63-kilogram category, with Peter getting the edge. Paul attempted to cut weight so as to compete in a different category, but it just didn’t quite happen, he said. In that case, they could end up wrestling for gold again this week.
Cochran (84kgs) and Fayad (60kgs) also won gold at Islands. Harati (66kgs) and Keeping (70kgs) were fourth.
All wrestlers, regardless of club, have to compete for their school at provincials. Even if it doesn’t have a team.
That goes for Nolan Mitchell, a Grade 10 student at Claremont secondary. As the No. 1 seed in the 45kgs class, he is the South Island’s biggest threat to win.
But Mitchell’s case is different. Thanks to a committed family and his obliging work ethic, he has benefitted from weekly commutes to train with the Cowichan wrestling club.
“The biggest barrier this season has been getting (Reynolds wrestlers) into tournaments,” Cappus said.
“That’s where you learn and improve. But not everyone can’t afford the costs. We have the quality, we just need the quantity.”