By Woodard, Dale on December 16, 2019.
With a gold medal on the line, Sophie Strong was familiar with her opponent that stood in the way of it.
Which would make sense, considering it was one of her Lethbridge Amateur Wrestling Association teammates.
As she got set to grapple for gold in the 57kg division at the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Green and Gold Tournament Saturday afternoon at LCI, it was an all-LCI match as Strong, 17, found herself staring down her friend and fellow club member, Milly Wood.
However, it was hardly a grudge match.
“We’re really good friends and it’s kind of hilarious because when we started we were both smiling super big and giggling and laughing,” said Strong, a Grade 12 athlete. “It was really fun. I hadn’t fought her in a tournament before, but I fought her a lot at practice.”
The medals from that match were two of many for the hosts LAWA with 14 medals from the senior high athletes and 13 from the junior high wrestlers.
Among the gold medal haul was Hayden Devoy.
The Grade 11 student from Catholic Central earned top spot in the 82kg division, but it didn’t come easy.
“I wrestled a kid from Medicine Hat,” said Devoy, 17. “He ended up throwing me at the start and almost pin me, but then I persevered and I ended up winning pinning him.”
But he had to battle back to do it.
“You’ve just got to get through it,” said Devoy. “You hear the crowd yelling ‘Push push’ So you just give it your all and I ended up winning.”
Making the LAWA medal totals that sweeter was the high calibre of athletes competing at the two-day tournament with roughly 150 athletes from Calgary, Cardston, Stirling and Medicine Hat making the trip
“It was really good because what I saw was a lot of the surrounding towns came in with awesome wrestlers,” said LAWA head coach Pat Selk.
The weekend performance sends the LAWA in the Christmas break on a high note.
“Winning the home tournament is the best feeling in the world,” said Devoy. “Out of any of them I want to win this one and bring home a gold for LCI.”
The club will return with a meet in Medicine Hat early in the new year.
“Then we head into our busy part of the season, which is mid-January through all of February,” said Selk, adding Lethbridge will host rural provincials at the end of February with provincials following two weeks later in Calgary.
For Strong and Devoy, another strong showing at provincials is the goal and ideally a shot a nationals.
“I would like to make it to provincials and hopefully place,” said Strong. “I’ve placed before it provincials. I got third in provincials in Grade 10 and I wasn’t able to wrestle last year.”
For Devoy, a nationals berth would be a return trip.
“Two years ago I went and placed fourth.”
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