Haliburton Highlands Secondary School’s wrestling team earned the school a 40th place in a provincial competition March 4-6.
The school had five wrestlers qualify for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) competition at TD Place in Ottawa. Aiden Coles, Nic Graham, Connie Oh, Charlotte Paton and Austin Weller all competed.
Coach Paul Klose said the team wrestled well despite its provincials inexperience.
“They all wrestled as they should have. They had tough matches and for three of them it was their first time at OFSAA, so it was a bit of an eye opener,” Klose said. “They didn’t let that get to them.”
The highest finisher from the school was Coles in the 95kg weight class, seeded number four in the tournament. He finished fifth with a 4-2 record.
Close said Coles, who finished fourth in OFSAA in 2018, could have easily wound up with a higher finish.
“He could have been anywhere in the top two down to six. He wrestled against the eventual champion in his fourth match, so he lost that one and that put him on the consolation side,” Close said.
“(Coles is) a hard worker and he’s a very intelligent wrestler. It’s not just about body being ready, but mind being ready as well.”
Haliburton’s other wrestlers picked up wins but could not manage to place in their weight categories. But Close offered praise for how the team finished amongst the 200 schools represented.
“What we did like was the group that was there consistently worked hard and they performed well,” Close said. “While our numbers are smaller, our quality is decent. We have a good base to build with.”
Close said Haliburton’s wrestlers learned plenty from the experience.
“The wrestling community is wonderful. They get to chat with other coaches and athletes,” Close said. “This year it was excellent and each one of the wrestlers gained a lot by seeing that level of play. The ones that are returning will know to bring that to the mat next year.”