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Gold medal wrestler helps pump up interest in sport

BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW [email protected] For wrestler Alyssa Unwin, a step up in a weight category hasnÂ't meant a step back in her performance.

For wrestler Alyssa Unwin, a step up in a weight category hasnÂ't meant a step back in her performance.

Unwin, along with 11 other wrestlers from Chelmsford Valley District Composite School, are headed to the Cadet Juvenile Ontario Provincial Championships at Guelph University this weekend.

Unwin won a gold medal last year at the same event in the 44-kilogram class, but she has stepped up to the 48-kilogram division this year, and she loves the tough challenge.

Â"I grew a little bit,Â" Unwin joked. Â"ItÂ's a bigger challenge because the girls are stronger and thereÂ's more of them. Last year, in the 44-kilogram, there were only four other wrestlers. In the 48-kilogram, there are probably 12 to 15 wrestlers. ItÂ's a transition for sure.Â"

Unwin has used her trademark grit, supreme skill and determination to make her mark in the 48-kilogram class.

She has already won first place at two tournaments this school year, and placed second at a third event.

At provincials this year, Unwin has plenty of motivation to grasp the gold.

Â"This yearÂ's provincials is also the (2005) Canada Summer Games trials, so if I win this, I get to go to the Canada Games,Â" said Unwin. Â"I think my chances are very good. I have had to change my style, but I am sure I can win. Last year, I was the strongest in my weight class, so I could muscle a few moves. Now, I am not the strongest, so I have adapted, and it has worked. It will take a lot of smart wrestling. I will stick to the basics and not get fancy because thatÂ's how you get beat.Â"

The move to a higher weight class will also benefit UnwinÂ's future plans.

Â"It has been a great help,Â" said Unwin. Â"When I go to university next year, thereÂ's no 44-kilogram class at that level. The lowest is the 48-kilogram class, so itÂ's good that I am getting used to it this year and it will not be a shock. I have definitely improved by the move up in weight.Â"

UnwinÂ's coach, Paul Berthiaume sees good things for Unwin and credits her with building interest in the sport in the community.

Â"She has her work cut out for her because the 48-kilogram class has traditionally been one of the most competitive divisions in Ontario,Â" said
Berthiaume. Â"She just returned from the Ontario Junior Championships for 18 and 19 year olds. She is only 17 but wrestled up an age class and placed second, losing to a Brock University wrestler. SheÂ's built the Chelmsford team and Sudbury club up for females, being one of the first female all-Ontario champions out of this region. The team went from two girls four years ago to 12 girls this season.Â"

Along with Unwin, Jenna Schroeder, Julie Vincent, Tanya Silander, Jenna Howard, Sarah and Shawna Sookram, Spencer Burton, Sheldon Burton, Ben Schram, Dilan Byrnes and Cody Demeau will all take to the mat vying for coveted spots in the Canada Summer Games, which will take place in August in Saskatchewan.

The team will be without the services of two silver medal-winning wrestlers from last yearÂ's championships. Melissa Charron is out with a broken elbow and Cale Predon is done due to torn knee ligaments.

Â"We have major injuries on the team, and that will hurt the teamÂ's chances for a team title,Â" said Berthiaume. Â"We have a large contingency of rookie wrestlers, but with lots of potential. Jenna Howard has beaten most of the wrestlers in Ontario at her own weight. Cody Demeau should fair well, as he placed sixth in Canada last year. Julie Vincent finished just out of the finals last year. SheÂ's been working hard and should medal if she
has a good day.Â"


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