A couple of eager wrestlers grapple during an elementary school wrestling meet at Ecole Voyageur on Wednesday.
Ecole Voyageur school hosted a feisty sporting event on Wednesday.
Francophone schools in the Conseil scolaire Centre-Est school division gathered 174 students from Grades 2-6 for a wrestling meet.
This year, École des Beaux-Lacs was most successful in winning matches.
Troy Gratton works for Conseil scolaire Centre-Est school division and said this event can channel playful roughhousing for young students and is eagerly anticipated each year.
“It’s held in one of our Francophone schools. We used to always do it in St. Paul where our central office is. But it was decided to grow the game to do it in the schools to encourage kids who decided to not to participate – to participate,” said Gratton.
“We do a rotation either at École du Sommet, École des Beaux-Lacs, École de Beauséjour, and here in Cold Lake at École Voyageur.”
In preparation for the annual meet, students are taught lessons in their physical education classes, which include basic wrestling techniques and safety.
The students were put into pools of six made up by weight class, but adjusted to make sure younger kids weren’t battling anyone much older than them, or a wrestler with more experience.
The youngsters wrestled in two and a half minute matches, with 80 matches at each ring.
Afterward, ribbons were handed out for 1st to 6th place.
“It really started in the Yukon. Our superintendent [Marc Dumont] basically had a connection with someone in Yukon, he decided it was something he wanted to bring to our area. We set up some people up there to check it out. We’ve been doing it for about 9 years. It’s a big hit, we have over 100 students participating and they seem to love it,” said Gratton.
Gratton added that the worst injuries the kids get aren’t physical.
“Usually the worst injury we’ve had is a bruise, but mostly egos. They are young kids, Grade 2-6, especially the younger ones who have a little less experience, it’s more of an emotional injury than anything else,” he said.
“We get referees from Alberta Wrestling and we have a couple high school students from Ecole Beausejour (Plamondon) who have a wrestling program, so actually it’s very few injuries.”
About 60 per cent of eligible students participated in this year’s meet.
École des Beaux-Lacs finished first overall, École Voyageur second, École du Sommet third, École de Beauséjour fourth, and École Sainte Catherine fifth.
École du Sommet and École de Beauséjour extend their wrestling program past elementary school and even travel to bigger meets across the province.