Destiny Discover

GHAC gold medal winners advance to provincial wresting championship

By Larry Moko

The Bishop Ryan Celtics eased up on their grip of the hardware at the annual Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference wrestling championships.

Instead of walking away with two team trophies this year as has been the case in recent history, the Celtics settled for just one – for girls’ team.

It was the sixth consecutive year BR has captured top honours in the girls’ category.

The host Craig Kielburger Spartans snapped Bishop Ryan’s five-year hold on the boys’ title, however. BR came third in boys’ team behind the Spartans and second-place St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves.

“We still have a very strong girls program,” Celtics coach Sheldon Francis said. “And, really, as weird as it sounds, it’s nice to see Craig Kielburger’s boys win. That means the rivalry is back between BR and CKSS. It makes it really exciting for next year when we host it at home.”

The GHAC meet was cancelled in each of the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bishop Ryan has qualified 14 athletes for the upcoming Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations meet in Ottawa. Other Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high schools will also be represented by way of top-two finishes – St. Thomas More, 13, St. Jean de Brebeuf, seven, Cathedral, two, St. Mary, one.

The GHAC gold-medal winners from Hamilton were: Anthony Canuto, Brebeuf, 44 kg; Jadan Ascencio Arriola, Bishop Ryan, 47.5 kg; Gabriel Giannini, Bishop Ryan, 51kg; Osama Alhariri, Brebeuf, 64 kg; Yousef Al-Udayl, More, 72 kg; Daniel Benvenga, BR, 83 kg; Jayden Harrison, Brebeuf, 89 kg; Aiden Nedelko-Payne, Bishop Ryan, 130 kg; Olivia DeGiorgi, Brebeuf, 41 kg; Gabriella La Bercasio, More, 47.5 kg; Elma Albaba, Bishop Ryan, 54 kg; Taylor Engelen, Bishop Ryan, 61 kg; Alecsandra Vlad, More,72 kg; Claudia Landry, Bishop Ryan, 83 kg; Jennifer DeMedeiros, More, 88 kg; Aline De Albuquerque, More, 95 kg; Deanna Rawn, Bishop Ryan, 115 kg.

Coach Stefanie West-Howorun was pleased with the performance of her ‘West-lers’ from More.

“It’s the most we’ve qualified for OFSAA so far,” she said. “It’s an exciting day. I thought we might get eight kids through to OFSAA but 13 is just incredible.”

And leading the charge for the Knights was Grade 10 student Yousef Al-Udayli.

“Last year Yousef won the city championships during Ramadan,” the More coach said. “He didn’t eat or drink at all during the whole day and still won. It shows his love, commitment and dedication.”

Al-Udayli has won the city championship in his weight class for two consecutive years.

“There will be lots of good people at OFSAA,” he said. “I’m not worried. This year it’s all about the experience. Next year it’s about winning.”

The Brebeuf Braves also turned in a strong performance. In addition to its runner-up finish in boys’ team, Brebeuf placed fourth in the overall team standings behind Kielburger, second-place St. Thomas More and first-place Bishop Ryan.

“We only brought nine wrestlers,” Brebeuf coach Mike Varrasso said. “I’m really pleased with the whole team, specifically first-year boys.”

Cathedral, too, achieved success with limited representation.

“Currently we’re wrestling with three students and it looks like two (Baylee Bettencourt and William Chisholm) will be going off to OFSAA,” Cathedral Gaels coach Phil Ciapanna said.

GHAC gold medal winners advance to provincial wresting championship
GHAC gold medal winners advance to provincial wresting championship