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PINNED DOWN – The 2017 Yukon Elementary Wrestling Championships in April, seen above, saw 475 young wrestlers competing on the mat in 1,225 matches.

Battling to host wrestling trials

After a stellar 2016 Arctic Winter Games showing with each wrestler taking at least one medal,

By Whitehorse Star on December 21, 2017

After a stellar 2016 Arctic Winter Games showing with each wrestler taking at least one medal, the Wrestling Association of the Yukon is hoping to rebuild after losing several athletes and volunteers.

“We as an organization have been struggling,” association president Ted Hupe said Wednesday. “We had a very strong cohort of coaches, organizers, tournament people, we’ve been doing it pretty robustly over the past 10 years and we’ve had a little bit of volunteer burnout.”

But the group is still fighting to have another strong team for the 2018 AWG in N.W.T. gearing up for the team trials Jan. 27 at Golden Horn Elementary School. Hupe said they have found an experienced head coach in Thomas Slager from Watson Lake who will come down for the trials and is also expected to bring a few Watson Lake athletes down as well to compete for a spot on the team.

“We’re hopeful, we’ve got more people lined up in the wings than we have in past Arctic Winter Games,” Hupe said.

“We haven’t had a full team for the past four Games.”

A full team would consist of 12 wrestlers, one per weight class both male and female. Even with strong teams each year, Hupe said it is tough to put together a team not because of a lack of athletes but because the turnover is high and they are also competing with other sports including the more popular team sports as athletes are only allowed to participate in one sport.

“We’ve had a really strong wrestling culture over a number of years and have done well at every Arctic Winter Games,” he said. “We’re competing with other sports, really good well-rounded athletes have a number of sporting opportunities in front of them.”

Starting in January, Hupe said interested athletes can attend club practices at Holy Family Elementary School on Sundays and he is expecting a decent turnout from judo athletes in Whitehorse as well as potentially from the communities to “cross-pollinate” and try their hand at another combative sport.

Another possible group of competitors may come from past Yukon elementary school wrestling tournaments that happen annually through the Yukon Schools Athletic Association.

“We have a few alumni from a variety of elementary schools now in Grades 9 and 10, encouraging them to join and some encountered us and asked about joining,” Hupe said.

The 2017 annual tournament saw 475 wrestlers from elementary schools across the territory take to the mat to compete in a total of 1,225 matches.

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