After an impressive showing against the top clubs in the province last month, the Prince Albert Wrestling Club will now showcase their talents against the best young wrestlers in Canada.
Shay Sather, Chad Bannerman, Donovan Neudorf, Colby Thomas, Cole Sanderson, Josh Jensen and Syndy Natomagan flew out from Saskatoon Thursday morning to compete in the Under 17 and Under 19 national championships, which runs from Friday to Sunday in Fredericton, N.B.
“When I saw the list of entries last week, I think there was 772 wrestlers that were registered,” coach Cody Souter said. “It’s going to be a busy couple of days.
“(Coach) Trevor (Bannerman) and I decided on who gets to go to the nationals, and that’s based upon how the kids perform during the year and what their attendance is like at our practices. It’s a good reward for them after a busy season.”
While half of the team will be taking part in their first nationals, this will be the third straight trip for Under-19 wrestler Chad Bannerman, who went to the last two championships in Windsor, Ont. and Edmonton.
“The biggest difference from the provincial events we go to is the amount of people that you are going to see there,” Bannerman said. “You have to take a match by match approach, especially since the event is bigger than anything that you’ve been at before.
“I know that I have a much better idea than I did when I went to Windsor two years ago. The preparation process has changed quite a bit as you have to focus on your strength and conditioning to get ready for much harder matches.”
The strength of the field is something that Souter has talked with the team about, as each province will be taking part at the event.
“It’s such a huge eye opener when you arrive at the nationals and it’s hard to explain what it’s like when you go there for the first time,” Souter said. “You almost have to go into the weekend a bit blind and just focus on your training.
“It’s basically building off of everything that you’ve done all year. Obviously we are used to facing the other wrestlers from Saskatchewan, but the other provinces have their own styles and techniques. Nothing is the same from the other meets we’ve been at.”
The competition begins Friday with Under 17 events, while the Under 19 division will take place Saturday.
The nationals will conclude Sunday with the Greco-Roman discipline.