By Larry Moko
Quality not quantity continues to be the trademark of St. Jean de Brebeuf wrestling teams.
While Brebeuf usually enters fewer wrestlers than most of the other high schools at tournaments, the Braves who do compete can often be counted on for podium performances.
That was again the case during the 2020 Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference wrestling championships at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School Thursday. Overall, the meet attracted 222 wrestlers from the Halton Public, Halton Catholic and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic boards. “Almost half the wrestlers we brought here are making their way to OFSAA,” Brebeuf coach Mike Varrasso said. “We have less numbers but I believe six of our wrestlers have qualified for OFSAA.”
Over the past decade Brebeuf has produced three provincial high school title holders – Jason Buckle, Laura Chechalk and Cassidy Noonan.
“Three champions, but altogether five gold medals (two apiece for Buckle and Noonan),” the veteran Braves coach said.
Braves who have punched their ticket to OFSAA in Sault Ste. Marie next month include: Maddie Troisi (67.5 kg); Rachel Joaquin (61kg); Alexis Hudson (41 kg); Michael Moran (72 kg); Jerald Gonzales (130 kg) and Nicole Kremenjas (51kg).
Said Varrasso: “This is Maddie and Rachel’s second time going to OFSAA, but it’s their first time as GHAC champions (first and second-place finishers in each GHAC weight category advance). I’m proud of their accomplishment. All the kids have worked hard.”
It should be noted that Troisi is student council president at Brebeuf.
“Nicole is a first-time qualifier,” Varrasso added. “She wrestled at 51kg and managed to finish second despite being up against Serena Di Benedetto (Bishop Ryan’s defending OFSAA champion and Canadian cadet national team member).”
The other first-time OFSAA qualifier was Moran, in the difficult 72 kg weight class.
“Our heavyweight (Gonzales) had a couple of tough matches and managed to get in as well,” Varrasso said.
Joaquin, a Grade 11 student, was “amazed” and excited by her gold-medal showing.
“I had the support of my family,” she said. “They believed in me. Last year was my first year and I’ve improved a lot. This is such a satisfying feeling because it’s my first gold.”
Joaquin is determined to become the best wrestler she can be. “I don’t like giving up. I go full throttle all the way. I love all our coaches. They are really good at giving tips. As a team we’re like a big family.”
Varrasso welcomes the arrival on the wrestling scene this year of a relaunched program at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School.
“They have a lot of people coming out,” he said. “It’s great competition and great for the sport.”
Overall, the Bishop Ryan Celtics once again finished as team champions in both the boys and girls’ divisions.
Bishop Ryan qualifiers for OFSAA are Nathan Crisante, Jadan Ascencio, Brayden Audit, Gianni Pirrera, Jacob Mines, Matteo Rendina, Gianluca Fortino, Hunter King-Spittle, Brayden Bourgeois, Adriano Di Benedetto, Lukas Geske, Wyatt Hutchinson, Taryn Davidson, Carlina Cipolla, Serena Di Benedetto, Aleah Ciarmoli, Alyssa Montoya, Kaelin Haire, Amelia Clarke, Claudia Landry and Diana Rawn.
Advancing from the St. Thomas More Knights will be Ali Hammoud, David Rajic, Avan Mamende, Marissa Cino, Victoria Huang, Juanita Leguizamon, Alecsandra Vlad, Isabella Dmitrovich, Maia Hormoz and Charisse Pilgrim.
The OFSAA championships are March 2-4 at GFL Memorial Gardens.
Source: Angelica Tarli