The St. Timothy Thunder wrestling team is gearing up to potentially win their fifth straight provincial banner, when the team heads to Medicine Hat for the major wrestling tournament on March 9 and 10.
The team had a very successful high school city championship, as five of the six athletes competing at the city finals on March 1 in Calgary Medalled. Connor McNeice, Isaiah and Elijah Springer all won gold while Danika and Naomi Cook took home silver and bronze respectively.
Thunder co-head coach Andy Macri was very pleased with the results from the championships and is impressed with how well St. Tim’s does, despite being a small school.
“The (city) championships went awesome. We took six wrestlers, three won gold, one took home silver and the other a bronze. The sixth wrestler is in her first year competing and she had a great experience,” Macri said.
“Connor (McNiece) and the two Springer boys (Isaiah and Elijah) both did well, which is what we expected of them. Danika and Naomi (Cook) both won medals and had a good showing, so a pretty good weekend for the Thunder wrestling program.”
“We don’t get many kids trying out for wrestling because, first off, we’re a small school and, secondly, it’s a very physically demanding sport. A lot of the Grade 10s have to go up against Grade 12 students and they shut it down if they don’t have much success … they all want instant payoff and you have to put in your time. There’s so much now for kids to do, that a lot of them don’t even pay attention to the sport. But the kids we do have, are very committed, they battle, and they just enjoy it.”
Macri said expects big things from the members of his team when it comes time to compete at the provincial tournament.
“We have five going from our school, all of the kids who won a medal at the city championships,” Macri said.
“I expect three golds … realistically, all five members we bring to the tournament could come back with a medal if they wrestle well. So yeah, we’re expecting good things and hopefully add another banner, five in a row would be nice.”
“But you never know with these things. You could have an injury or somebody could get sick, but right now we have a good chance.”
In the midst of all the preparation for cities and provincials, Connor McNeice committed to wrestle for the University of Calgary, where he will join his brother Callum, the recent recipient of the Canada West Best Male Wrestler of the Year.
“Connor had offers from many different universities, and why not right? When you’re a four-time national champion and you’ve won the Pan Am Games, you’re going to get noticed,” Macri said about the Grade 12 standout.
“He’s already winning university tournaments so any university that was going to get Connor was going to be very fortunate. But he decided on (the University of) Calgary with his brother and some of his friends going there, and the kid loves Cochrane. He loves to be able to be close to home, and personally I’m happy that he’s there … we’ll be able to hear all about him because he’s so close.”
The Provincial Championships will kick off on Friday afternoon with weigh-ins before the tournament gets underway on Saturday.