The Vernon Panthers wrestling team made its presence known Saturday at the Abbotsford Invitational Tournament.
The Cats sent five athletes and three of them returned with medals in their respective weight categories.
“This was the largest tournament our team has entered,” said co-coach Rob Eggert. “Hundreds of wrestlers from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and as far away as Saskatchewan participated in this elite tourney.”
Tyler Jackson went undefeated, upsetting the local favourite in the championship match to claim gold in the 48-kilogram division.
Joe Eggert, wrestling in the 38-kg class, showed his experience pinning each of his opponents in the preliminaries. His championship match went the entire six minutes, and was a showcase of two technical wrestlers.
“It was an incredible display of technique, each refusing to be pinned by his opponent,” said coach Eggert. “Joe settled for the silver.”
Joe’s brother, Sam, bowed in his initial match to the former B.C. champion from Maple Ridge. However, he clawed his way back though the back door of the draw, pinning his final opponent to claim bronze in the 45-kg class.
It has been 30 years since a VSS wrestler has claimed a provincial medal in wrestling (co-coach Brad Wyse earned gold in the 38-kg division), but Rob Eggert thinks this could be the year the drought ends.
“Our core group is a dedicated, committed bunch that push each other to improve their technique and quickness,” he said.
The Panthers will continue to train for a Kamloops tourney in January before zone qualifiers in February.
Provincials go Feb. 27-28, in Prince George.