Coming off a very strong performance at provincials, the youth arm of the Sudbury Regional Wrestling Club is broadening its horizons.
Coach Dominic Larabie and seven of his young wrestlers are in New Brunswick this week, site of the 2014 Canada East Championships.
A former wrestler with both the Little Rascals and the Eagles, as well as the high school team at Macdonald-Cartier, Larabie sees the trip as something of a reward for the time and effort the boys and girls have put in to grasping the finer details of grappling.
"They've all done remarkably well," said Larabie at a recent team practice. "They have all really grown as wrestlers, and have shown what they absorbed in their practices."
The backgrounds are varied, though more often than not, some family connection to wrestling provides a starting point for the introduction to the sport.
"I was at a soccer tournament, four years ago, and the wrestling club was handing out flyers," said 12-year-old Austin Mader.
"My dad did wrestling when he was in high school. My parents asked me to give it a try and I ended up loving it and kept doing it."
Recalling his start in wrestling, Mader admits that step one was breaking down the preconceived notions that are common to most kids his age.
"Wrestling isn't like the WWF," said Mader. "There's no punching, there's no kicking. It's just a fun sport to do, and it's really good for your health."
The Grade 6 student was also surprised to learn that pure brute strength is not necessarily a guarantee of success when it comes to winning a match on the mat.
"It doesn't matter how strong you are, it matters if you know how to do moves fast and with agility."
Enter Brier Lachapelle, a young lady who is also 12 years old, just eight months or so into her first year of wrestling.
In a club that sports more males than females, she finds competition where she can.
"Wrestling with the guys has been a good experience, honestly, because the guys I was wrestling with had more experience, and I didn't know anything," said Lachapelle.
"It was a little awkward, and I was kind of shy, but I got used to it. They went a little bit easier at the beginning, but now when I wrestle them, they go full pin."
To her credit, the Grade 7 student at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School has been a quick study, showing substantial improvement since her start in September.
"I used to think that I wasn't going to win, that I'm only a first-year wrestler," said Lachapelle. "Now I go in with confidence, knowing I need to get the job done, but whatever the outcome, it's OK."
In fact, more often than not, it's been more than OK. Lachapelle's rookie season was highlighted by a 10-0 win over an opponent at provincials, combining a pair of gut wrenches along with a tilt to score the lopsided victory.
The final move is also one of her favourites.
"They are laying on their stomach, and you have their one arm, and you go right in a circle, kind of like an alligator when it rolls," she described.
For coach Larabie, the close-knit circle that is the Sudbury wrestling community has really not changed all that much.
"All of the people who used to wrestle are all coaching now," said Larabie. "They're all bringing their own kids into the sport."
For he and his crew, the competition in St. Stephen, N.B., is a big deal, the first out-of-province tournament of any kind for the group.
"It's more about getting the experience and making sure they have a good time doing it, so that they want to keep doing it," said Larabie.
"Going to a tournament like this, you can't expect wins. You don't know what the calibre of wrestling that you're going to have in a completely different region. We really just want to make sure that the kids have fun."
Following are the complete results for the SRWC "youth" team at provincials:
1st place: Jasmine Tessier, Brier Lachapelle, Matthew Guerra
2nd place: Austin Mader, Hunter Larabie, Jade Mader
3rd place: Kyra Mallory, Emma Larabie, Peter Guerra