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Emerging wrestlers face off at all-star meet

Jared Lackman-Mincoff The Eastern Door

Wrestlers from Kahnawake Survival School (KSS) took part in the Greater Montreal Athletic Association (GMAA) all-star wrestling meet at John Rennie High School last week, in a preview of the GMAA championships.

“We’re happy to be here. They put on a nice show, and they make it feel special,” said Stalk, KSS wrestling coach.

Brandon Stalk always notices an outpouring of support from the community for the Kahnawake Survival School (KSS) wrestlers. He feels that the whole community gets behind them, and it lifts them up in competition.

“The KSS wrestling team has always been a pretty big deal because of our past success,” he said. “Our community is very proud of our wrestling team, and they’re very supportive. The fans come out and the families come out. It’s pretty cool.”

The meet brings together the best wrestlers in every weight category. But aside from being a fun event, the February 8 meet served as a prelude to the GMAA championships, held at Howard S. Billings High School on February 15.

“A lot of the matches you see here will be the GMAA gold medal matches. Next week, everyone is going to be serious,” said Kahnawa’kehró:non Peter Montour, coach of the wrestling team at Billings.

KSS has had a large lead-up to the all-star meet and championships, having started practice roughly four days a week in mid-September. There are a lot of new wrestlers on the team for whom this was their first-ever appearance at the all-star meet.

“They didn’t know what it was going to be like, but it’s good because you’re competing against people from schools that you don’t normally get to compete against,” Stalk said.

GMAA wrestling is split into on-island and off-island schools. This year, KSS – part of the off-island region – only competed against the four other off-island schools: Howard S. Billings, Heritage Regional High School, Massey-Vanier High School, and École Paul-Germain-Ostiguy. But the all-star meet gives them a chance to compete against on-island schools.

That was the case for wrestler Rakehnhktha Polson Lahache, competing in the 95-pound category. His bout against Nicholas Clark from Royal West Academy went the full four minutes, and Lahache ended up on the wrong end of a 7-5 decision. He said the experience of competing against an on-island athlete was tougher for him, but he was glad to have the opportunity nonetheless.

“It felt very rewarding. It just made me happy to have the chance,” he said.

Stalk had high hopes for Lahache at the all-star meet and going forward to the championships, considering his strong performance of late.

Lia Bear is another KSS wrestler on a roll. Her opponent did not show at the all-star meet, however, so she unfortunately did not get a chance to compete.

“I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t wrestle,” said Bear, adding it was her first time at the all-star meet. 

But, like Lahache, she was simply happy to get selected as an all-star.

“It was kind of unexpected. But yeah, it feels good,” she said.

One of the biggest believers in KSS wrestling is Montour himself. Having spent 30 years with the school as an athlete and later as a coach. 

Montour had Stalk by his side as an assistant coach at KSS, and now believes that Stalk will bring KSS back to the top.

“It took us eight years to become a championship team in those days,” Montour said. “Brandon’s rebuilding and he’s in year two. Give him time, and he’s going to get there.”

sports@easterndoor.com

This article was originally published in print on February 16 in issue 33.07 of The Eastern Door.

Jared Lackman-Mincoff
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