BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
The raw, powerful sport of Olympic wrestling will be showcased this weekend in Sudbury.
One of the biggest wrestling tournaments of the year will take place this weekend at Macdonald-Cartier Secondary School, located on the Lasalle Extension.
Between 325 and 375 kids, aged eight to 14, will flood the Nickel City to strut their stuff at the Canada East Youth Wrestling Festival.
Â?This is the final championship tournament of the year,Â? said Guy Quenville, event co-ordinator.
Â?There will be kids from New Brunswick, Newfoundland, PEI, Quebec and of course, Ontario.Â?
The tournamentÂ?s main focus is to introduce the wrestlers to the senior levels they will be advancing to next year.
Â?This is a stepping stone for the kids,Â? said Quenville. Â?They will have a lot of fun.Â?
The tournament is an invaluable experience for the young wrestlers.
Â?They meet a lot of people from across the country and they learn the friendship of the sport,Â? said Quenville.
People going to the tournament will not see the over-the-top professional-style wrestling so popular on television.
Olympic-style wrestling is an art form which often takes years of practice to become good at, said Quenville.
Â?ItÂ?s the oldest style of combative sports in the world,Â? said Quenville. Â?Wrestling is also the second oldest sport in the Olympics.Â?
Of the 300-plus kids entered, 35 are from the Sudbury area representing the Little Rascals Wrestling Club and the Rayside-Balfour Wrestling Club. There are more than a few to keep your eye on this weekend.
Mattieu Charette, the defending champion at the junior level, will be there competing at the bantam level. Page Henry and Megan Desbien from the Rayside-Balfour Club will also be competing.
Â?These kids have practiced really hard to get here.Â?
Zack Mullin who captured a silver medal last year at the same event, will be back competing for the elusive gold.
Another wrestler to watch is Cassandra Lacoste.
Â?She had only one defeat all year and she won the provincial championship a couple of weeks ago.Â?
As a longtime coach and huge fan of the sport, Quenville says heÂ?s looking forward to seeing all the wrestlers compete this weekend.
Â?These kids are into the sport and you can tell they will be in it for a long time to come.Â?
Sudbury was granted the tournament last year and there hasnÂ?t been a day where Quenville, Jean-Marc Levesque and other organizers havenÂ?t been working on preparations for this event.
Â?WeÂ?ve been meeting every week for about six to eight hours and the last two weeks weÂ?ve put in 30 hours a week,Â? said Quenville. Â?ItÂ?s been a year of preparation.Â?
All the hard work has been worth it to Quenville and the other organizers.
Â?ItÂ?s for the kids and seeing them smile and be happy is going to be great,Â? said Quenville. Â?We wanted to make sure the tournament is well run because it will reflect back on Sudbury and our wrestling clubs.Â?
The finals will be on Sunday at 12:30 pm. There will be medals for the top four wrestlers and awards for the top team in each division.
The last time the event was held in Sudbury was in 1995.
All amateur wrestling fans and sports fans in general are invited to take in the action all weekend.