Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) wrestlers successfully battled Feb. 14 to earn eight top seedings in the upcoming Central Ontario Secondary School Association (COSSA) championships.

Eight students earned top-four finishes at the home tournament, which determines the bracket for COSSA Feb. 21. The tournament featured 165 wrestlers from 15 schools, according to HHSS coach Paul Klose. HHSS student Charlotte Paton earned the top seed in her weight class, while five others from the school earned second place finishes.

Klose said the 13 athletes competing from HHSS did very well.

“They work hard at practice and yesterday (Feb. 14), they seemed to put everything together during their matches,” he said. “They did what they had to do during the tournament and ended up with fine results.”

HHSS students Aidan Coles, Austin Weller, Logan Heaven, Corin Gervais and Connie Oh all earned second-place seedings with their performance at the home tournament. Nic Graham placed third in his weight class while Nic Phippen had a fourth-place finish.

Coles – who lost his first-place match by a close 9-7 score – said he was happy about the results of the seeding tournament.

“Ended up getting second place, which wasn’t ideal, but overall was pretty good. Everyone wrestled well,” he said. “If I did it again and one or two things went differently, I definitely could have won, but overall it was a good match.”

HHSS wrestlers will take their seedings to the COSSA tournament at Centennial Secondary School in Belleville Feb. 21. Top-two finishers from there will get the chance to compete in a provincewide tournament in March.

“It’s been a great season. Everyone’s eager to learn,” Klose said. “We keep looking ahead to the next step and looking to improve.”

Coles, who is in Grade 12, said wrestling has given him a drive.

“(To) push myself and never give up,” Coles said. “There are times you’re pinned in wrestling and you give every little ounce of strength that you have to push your way out of it … wrestling is one of those things, even if you have a natural ability, you still have to work.”

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