WILKIE — McLurg wrestling program has grown annually under the experienced leadership of coach Chris Kent, teacher at McLurg High School. There is a long line of championship hardware hanging at the school attesting to success stories over the years from the wrestling program.
There are now 14 wrestling athletes out of Wilkie, and they are joined by three wrestlers from Unity Composite School.
For the 2022-23 season, wrestlers have competed at several events in preparation for upcoming Sask. High School Athletics Association district and regional events.
In addition to Kent, the wrestling team is assisted by Kyra Huber, UCHS teacher and former McLurg wrestler. Koralie Huber, who was also a McLurg wrestler while in school, is also on the sidelines and has won a provincial medal in the sport. Wilkie community businessman, Suki Pangalia, is also a coach.
Wrestlers are preparing for regional wrestling March 4 at Carpenter High School in Meadow Lake. If a provincial berth is won, athletes will travel to O’Neil High School in Regina to compete at SHSAA provincials March 17-18.
The season so far has included competition at various tournaments in Regina and Saskatoon, competing against some of the biggest schools in the province.
Kent often shares his energy, enthusiasm, and excitement about the high school wrestlers he coaches.
“Kierra Babchuk and Piper Kent remain undefeated this season,” he says.
“We are seeing success with a relatively rookie team as we usually have a roster than includes 10 veterans along with four or five rookies per year. This season is quite the opposite, although with the number of rookies we have, I feel we will still be competitive and hope to repeat and three-peat our provincial team titles.”
Kent says positivity and work ethic the coaching staff and athletes are building together are key to the teams’ success. The priority has been to create a positive season and drama-free culture.
Many an athletic and dominant sports team has been toppled with bad attitudes, drama, and negativity, Kent says.
“It was important for us to pass on a growth mindset to the new athletes. That (in my opinion) is the most important factor in creating a championship team. Cultivate the dream, the possibility and high school athletes will achieve.
“We also wanted to try and keep our multi-provincial champs humble and open to growth. You cannot teach anything to someone who thinks they know it all already. Arrogance and overconfidence, (are) the second biggest killer(s) of championship teams, in my opinion.”
Kent says he is gratified to coaching alongside some of his former McLurg wrestling athletes. He also notes that at their last tournament in Regina, they came up against several, past McLurg Broncs who are now coaching some of the biggest teams in the province.
Former McLurg wrestler, Celina Risling (silver, bronze provincials, U of R wrestler) is head coach of the biggest high school in the province, Carlton. August Bayliss (national/provincial gold) is coaching at Martin Collegiate in Regina. Cole Veit is also coaching at Johnson Collegiate. Along with Kyra and Koralie coaching beside him, he says he is immensely proud of the legacy the McLurg wrestling program has created and that graduated wrestlers are giving back to the sport in coaching.
Those involved with the wrestling program say Kent’s leadership reflects the adage, “The speed of the leader is the speed of the group.”
An inspiring and valuable message is posted on the group’s Facebook page, “Excuses make today easy but tomorrow hard. Discipline makes today hard but tomorrow easy.”