Cow High’s Hayley Bye-Pace takes on Q of A’s Georgia Bond at the Island championships in Port Alberni. (Raylene Pace photo)

Vancouver Island wrestler poised to make BC high school history

Talon Hird aims to be the fifth athlete to win five provincial titles in five years

Talon Hird will be looking to make history at the provincial high school wrestling championships.

The decorated athlete from Cowichan Secondary School and the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club has a shot at becoming just the fifth wrestler in B.C. history to win five provincial titles.

The sport divides competitors by weight class instead of age, so Grade 8 students square off in the same events as Grade 12s. Hird won his weight class in each of his first four trips to provincials, and hopes to cap off his high school career with a fifth gold at the 2020 meet that begins this weekend in Langley.

Hird strolled through the Island championships in Port Alberni last weekend, where he didn’t concede a single point on his way to the top of the podium in the 54kg boys class and was named Most Outstanding Male Wrestler.

“I think everyone in the gym — coaches, competitors, parents — saw that coming,” CVWC head coach Nick Zuback said. “He’s the hardest worker in our room, the most dedicated wrestler I’ve ever had. Hopefully this weekend he makes history with his fifth provincial championship. That’s the goal.”

Hird will lead a contingent of 20 wrestlers from the Cowichan Valley into provincials after an Island meet that played out pretty much as expected for the club. In addition to plenty of individual success, Cow High also won the girls’ team title for the third year in a row.

“All the kids did pretty well,” Zuback noted. “We had some pretty good matches. The results were about what we were expecting. There were no big surprises. The ones we were expecting to win won, and the ones we were expecting to finish in the top did that. They all got the results we were looking for.”

Five Cowichan Valley wrestlers, including Hird, won gold in male divisions at Islands, and most of them will contend for provincial titles as well. Queen of Angels’ Joaquim Dalton-Pereira faced the defending provincial champ in the 45kg boys final and defeated him to earn one of four seeded spots in Langley.

“I think he has what it takes to place on top of the podium, too,” Zuback said.

Hird’s Cow High teammate, Dawson Jory, cruised through the 74kg class.

“He didn’t give up a point, and he made it look easy,” Zuback said.

Other first-place finishers in the boys division were Rory Brennan-McCann of Shawnigan Lake School at 48kg, Q of A’s Grady Berg at 66kg, and Cow High’s Dylan Battye at 60kg. Battye was denied a seeded position at provincials, but the club has filed an appeal on his behalf.

Also qualifying for provincials were Cow High’s Mattias Zachary (second at 51kg), Quamichan’s Connor Gregson (third at 54kg), Duncan Christian’s Darren Doherty (second at 57kg), and Frances Kelsey’s Josh Isaac (third at 60kg) and Gabriel Carreiro (third at 84kg).

Hayley Bye-Pace and Miaya Brownbridge won individual gold at 64kg and 60kg, respectively, to lead Cowichan Secondary to a third consecutive Island title. Both wrestlers also earned seeds at provincials.

“That should hopefully get them into the finals,” Zuback said. “It would be nice to see five or six from the Cowichan Valley in the finals at provincials.”

Brownbridge’s final against Natalie Mahoney of G.P. Vanier was named the most outstanding match of the entire meet.

“It was back and forth,” Zuback reported. “And she came back and pulled it off.”

Nadja Schwarz also contributed to Cow High’s Island title win with a second-place finish in the 69kg class.

Wrestling

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