The Cochrane Cowboys Wrestling Club demonstrated its strength in the ring at the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games in Swift Current, Sask., with all five of its representatives bringing home hardware.
Annika Fines, Autumn Shopa, Zoë Adam and Jaityn Labelle earned gold in their respective weight classes, while Nicholas Hooper brought back silver.
According to Curtis Hooper, a coach with the Cowboys, this was the largest contingent the club has ever sent to the Western Canada Summer Games.
“The Cowboys, as a club, is hanging in there tough with all the other clubs in Alberta,” he said.
Along with their individual bouts, the five Cowboys members were also on the successful Alberta wrestling team, which won gold in the team event. In a show of dominance, all 22 of Alberta’s wrestlers in Swift Current earned medals.
“I think Alberta, as a whole, has a great program heading forward,” Hooper said. [There are] a lot of great wrestlers, a lot of opportunities and a lot of people invested in it.
“As far as the Cowboys, it says we’re keeping up with the talent that is emerging.”
The club’s youngest wrestler at the games, Fines, said she was pleased with her performance.
“I thought it was pretty good to go into matches and be challenged a bit more,” said Fines, a 13-year-old who has been with the Cowboys for three years.
“I was a bit more aggressive than normal, which is good.”
Away from the mat, she said she enjoyed taking part in the games, which featured roughly 1,700 of the top athletes in western Canada between the ages of 13 and 20, competing in 16 different sports.
“The whole experience was really cool,” she said. “There were a lot of fun things we got to do, [like attending] the closing ceremonies and being a part of Team Alberta.”
Hooper, who claimed second in the 63-kg weight class, credited his coaches for the success of Alberta’s wrestlers. He said the team formed several months ago and prepared for the games by attending camps in Vancouver, B.C., and Jasper, Alta.
The 14-year-old, Grade-9 student, who will attend St. Timothy’s High School in September, said he intends to continue wrestling competitively, with the goal of earning a scholarship to a university program. He added medaling at the Western Canada Summer Games showed he has the potential to compete – and succeed – against wrestlers from other provinces.
“I’m pretty proud of my matches – especially the ones I lost, because I feel I learned a lot,” Hooper said.
“I’m getting to a point where I’m starting to do national-level competitions. [I have] an eagerness to win. I love competition and…all the yelling, cheering, the duels and all these new experiences.”
According to Hooper, the next big event the Cowboys will train for will be the 2020 Alberta Winter Games, to be held in Airdrie Feb. 14 to 17, 2020.
RVC runners competitive
Another Cochrane athlete who competed during the second phase of the games was long-distance runner Amy Miller. The 17-year-old finished fifth in the 3,000-metre (m) all-female race, with a time of 10:46.71. Miller was just seven milliseconds behind the fourth-place runner – her Alberta teammate Jasmine Feddema.
Chestermere’s sole representative at the games, meanwhile, was track-and-field athlete Grace Cook. The 18-year-old ran to a seventh-place finish in the 800-m event and a ninth-place finish in the 1,500-m race.
Alberta topped the total medal standings in Swift Current, earning 299 pieces of hardware. Saskatchewan came in second with 213.