By Ryan McCracken on March 12, 2018.
Michael Grose and Nolan McNaughton took very different paths to the Alberta Schools Athletics Association’s provincial wrestling championships, but they both ended up in the same place — with a bronze medal around their neck.
While McNaughton was hoping for another gold after dedicating the past few years of his life to the sport and entering the tournament as reigning provincial champion, Grose only picked up the sport this season, in his final year of high school.
“My older brother (Taylor) wrestled when he was in high school so I picked it up because I wanted to wrestle just like my older brother,”said Grose, who immediately caught on and battled his way to Saturday’s 76 kg bronze medal match against McNally High’s Thomas Rousseau, where he won by way of superiority. “This whole wrestling season has just been surreal for me. Every tournament I’ve been learning so much and I feel like I’ve grown so much. It really paid off to end with a bronze. I was happy just to make it here and now I’m a provincial bronze medallist.”
While he fell short of the gold medal match after falling to Ross Sheppard’s Kevin Mwamba in the semifinal, Grose pushed the pace on Rousseau once bronze was in sight. The Grade 12 rookie quickly took things to the ground and ran up the score in his favour without sacrificing a point. While he looked to win in a matter of seconds, a protest led to Rousseau being awarded two points and a second chance — but it didn’t last long.
Knowing he was one move away from the podium, Grose went for the leg and capitalized with a throw to secure the victory.
“That was awesome,” said Grose. “It was a controversial call. I thought maybe the match was over because it was 10-0 but they won the challenge so I just thought I needed two points, I saw the leg and I took it.”
McNaughton also made quick work of his 50 kg bronze medal opponent, Bishop O’Byrne’s Caden Frey. After immediately taking Frey to the mat, the Grade 11 Hawks wrestler established position and got the pin after being forced to spin in circles for the better part of a minute.
“I kind of knew my opponent so I was ready and comfortable with the throw. I wasn’t ready for the spinning on the ground, that took a little longer than I thought,”said McNaughton, adding it was great to have the chance to showcase his sport in front of his school and community. “Hat High actually gets to see exactly what wrestling looks like.”
McNaughton — who was forced into the bronze medal match after falling to Crescent Heights Calgary’s Riley White in the semifinal — added he plans on taking his wrestling game as far as it can go, and with any luck he’ll be representing his country one day.
“From here I’m going to take it to another provincial championship hopefully, and from then on hopefully nationals and the Olympics and see how far I can go,”he said.
Fellow Hawks wrestlers Natasha McGraw and Kayen Ivey also made it to the bronze medal round, but ultimately settled for fourth after McGraw fell to Lester B. Pearson’s Klean Amba and Ivey dropped a close match to Wetaskawin Composite’s Kjel Gusdal.
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