(Courtesy Alexander Perez)
For Teiotsatonteh Diabo, the 2020 Greater Montreal Athletic Association Championships was her chance at redemption. After coming up short in the 2019 finals with silver, Diabo wrestled her way to a gold medal in the 125 KG weight class, signing off her last GMAAs with Kahnawake Survival School as champion.
“To come back this year and to win gold for my last year, it was an amazing feeling,” said Diabo. “I was GMAA champion before, so it’s a reclamation for me.”
Diabo wasn’t the only athlete among KSS that struck gold last Thursday at Massey-Vanier High School. With a team of 11 athletes, KSS won 17 of their 23 matches, managing a total of 10 medals in the process – seven gold, two silver and a bronze.
The girls’ team led the way for KSS, with five gold and one silver, earning top spot at the tournament in the Juvenile Girls Division with 35 points. The KSS boys’ team ranked fifth in the Juvenile Boys Division with 25 points.
Ecole Secondaire P.G. Ostiguy finished in first with 70 points in the boys division, as last year’s GMAA champions Loyola High School ranked second with 66 points.
“I’m proud. For the younger wrestlers, they really surprised me. I told them win or lose, they’re great to me. I was extremely proud of everyone who wrestled today, they all did amazing,” said Diabo.
Since taking over the program after the departure of head coach Peter Montour in 2018, both Ryan Rice and assistant coach Garrett Jacobs set out to achieve a five-year rebuilding plan with the team.
Both coaches arrived when Diabo was in ninth grade, and in the two years running the program, the team has shown signs of improvement.
“Last year we only had one gold medalist, two silver and a bronze. The team is progressing,” said Rice. “The kids are two years in our system, so their technique is getting better, their conditioning is getting better, they’re getting stronger.”
“Big difference from last year to this year,” continued Rice.
With the team impressing on the mat, some KSS wrestlers were left surprised by their individual performance.
Joining the team in September, first time wrestler Taiakonkikonhrokewe “Roks” Diabo felt she proved herself wrong. In the six months that followed, Roks capped off her first wrestling season with a gold medal of her own in the 95 KG weight class.
At the start of her final, Roks admitted to being nervous, but once she stepped foot on the wrestling mat, she was filled with confidence.
“I first joined the team and they welcomed me right away, It wasn’t like I was off to the side,” said Roks. “The months went by so fast and I didn’t think I was going to be where I’m at right now.”
After three years of wrestling with KSS, Cy Deer earned himself top spot in his weight 132 KG class, beating Howard S. Billings High School’s Nicholas Elliot in the finals.
“It’s exciting,” said Deer. “I can say that I did way better than the year before. I don’t want to lose, so I just try harder, and it gets me the wins.”
Next year, Deer hopes to see a higher medal haul for the team; “Get everybody on the podium,” he said.
For the ladies, Iontonwesenhstha Goodleaf won the 163 KG weight class, Jordyn Goodleaf finished second in the 111 KG weight class, and both Tiahahison Splicer (87 KG) and Madison Rose Montour (Heavyweight) won unopposed in their weight classes.
For the boys, Karonhiakehson Jacobs won the 95 KG weight class; Teiokeraonhatie Horne brought home silver (111 KG), while Dylan Standup won bronze (138 KG).
With the GMAA Championships marking the end of the high school wrestling season, Rice and his athletes will be looking to make a splash at the Canada East Championships, in Halifax, Nova Scotia in May.