Hyacks' prospects good despite declining numbers

They don’t have the same numbers as they did in their two-year run as B.C. champions.

But what the New Westminster Secondary’s wrestling team lacks in numbers is balanced by some solid potential heading into the final few meets before the zone qualifying competition, head coach Gord Sturrock said.

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The roster is at about a dozen this year, down from last year’s 15 who made a valiant attempt to three-peat as B.C. senior boys champions.

This year’s lineup includes Dan Dordevic, who won bronze as a heavyweight last year, and finished third at nationals (under-19).

“The team is pretty young and numbers are kind of low, but there’s some good potential,” noted Sturrock, who has been aided by NWSS alums Connor Pattison and Hossein Shidfar this season. Pattison is currently wrestling at Simon Fraser University, and both were members, along with Dordevic, of the Hyacks’ 2017 B.C. championship team.

A Douglas College instructor in sports science, Sturrock is planning to hand off the baton after this season following about 10 years coaching. He said the program would benefit from finding someone on staff to keep the wrestling team moving forward, noting that the transfer of teacher/coach Chad Oatway to Fraser River Middle made it harder to recruit new wrestlers.

“(Oatway) was excellent in being on-site, helping recruit and keeping kids in the program,” said Sturrock.

This year’s team has seen the addition of three girls to the program, including Willow Beyea, a competitive rugby player who has picked up the grappling art quickly. At the Burnaby Central Wildcat Invite last week she finished third in her 90-kilogram division.

Dordevic won his heavyweight division, while teammate Forrest Xu, a Grade 10 newcomer, placed third. Placing second in their respective divisions were Kevin Giroux, in 70kg, and Titgol Jok, in 78kg. Andros Dancey finished fourth in the 70kg competition.

Sturrock remarked that Dancey and Jok, while at opposite sides of the grade perspective (Grade 10 and 12, respectively), are two football players who have made impressive transitions to the mats.

“(Dancey) is in a very competitive division but has shown great progress,” he said, while Jok “is picking up the sport fast and has demonstrated he can score on some of the best wrestlers in the province.  Anything can happen for (Jok).”

While he projects the team’s best provincial medal hopes for Dordevic and Alec Lacusta, who finished fourth a year ago in 66kg, Sturrock wouldn’t be surprised if someone else emerges further than a top-six spot.

“There’s potential, for sure,” said Sturrock. “I’m hopeful that we’ll have three or four top-six finishers.”

The team ventures to Abbotsford for this weekend’s B.C. Age Class, while the qualifiers for provincial meet, which is in Langley this year, goes Feb. 8 in Port Moody.

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