Elphinstone Secondary, led by Grade 12 wrestler Scout Stipec, continues to rip up the mats this wrestling season. The yellow singlets worn by team wrestlers serve as a warning to any other wrestlers who step on the mat that they are about to be challenged at an extreme level.
For the last two years, Scout has placed fourth at nationals and second at provincials, but this is her breakout year where she will show the country why the women from Elphinstone are the strongest wrestlers in Canada.
Elphinstone has built each year on its program with three of its last three top females qualifying for nationals and placing well. This year, with only five female wrestlers, Elphinstone placed third on the North Shore for Women’s Wrestling, second only to Carson Graham by three points.
“All we need is three more wrestlers to take the North Shore banner for Elphinstone. This is something that Elphinstone has never done,” said coach Eric Sullivan. “Our goal is excellence in all we do on the mat, and all of our wrestlers do that each and every day.”
“I can’t be more proud of every one of our wrestlers,” said coach Mike Rines. “We took five wrestlers to the North Shore Championship and all five finished no lower than second. Grade 8 Aila Brampton’s only loss was to one of our own, Scout Stipec.”
Scout was awarded the trophy for Most Outstanding Wrestler on the North Shore. Rines, a teacher on the Sunshine Coast who wrestled under his mentor and coach Clint Fox (the founder of the Elphinstone team), wrestled for the University of Calgary. His expertise has been invaluable.
Last weekend Sullivan took three Elphinstone wrestlers and three borrowed Gibsons Elementary wrestlers to the Alberni Invitational tournament. They travelled through a snowstorm to join 525 of the best wrestlers from B.C. and Alberta to wrestle on five different mats.
Out of those six wrestlers, Elphinstone took five medals and saw its next top female wrestler, Grade 9 Eilis MacKenzie, finish fourth in one of the most difficult brackets of the tournament. First-year wrestler and future provincial champion, Grade 8 Matt Drope, kept his feet active and placed second.
The three elementary wrestlers wrestled in the middle school division, taking on wrestlers up to Grade 8. Grade 6 Dorian Connelly and Grade 7 Elijah Karkabe, new to wrestling this year, wrestled strong and both placed second in their respective divisions. Sixty-pound Grade 4 Ethan Sullivan wrestled opponents who weighed up to 20 pounds heavier, finishing third based on his technical skill in his third year on the mat. Ethan had provincial coach Mike MacDonald in his corner when he did a textbook duck under to suplex.
The most dominant wrestler of the tournament was Scout. She had the fastest match of the tournament, seeing her pin her first opponent in eight seconds. She finished her tournament as she started it. She competed in the first place final against a very talented, strong wrestler, pinning her to end the match in less than 18 seconds. Her total mat time for the entire tournament was one minute 24 seconds.
“She is a destroyer,” McDonald said.
Scout has been offered a spot on SFU’s NCAA varsity team coached by former Olympic coach Mike Jones.
“We have years of incredible wrestlers coming up through the elementary program,” said Sullivan, who coaches and teaches at Gibsons Elementary. “We need a new mat at the elementary level though. We are going to start the long task of raising several thousand dollars, as we are wrestling on gymnastic mats. My goal is to have portable mats where we can have certified coaches travelling the district to all elementary schools, showing them what the sport is and how to be safe on the mat.”
Sullivan coaches five days a week, mornings and after school. “It is a busy life, but seeing kids excel and reach their potential through their efforts is extremely rewarding.”
Elphinstone now looks to take their team to the Vancouver zone qualifier.
“Last year we took four and had all four qualify for provincials,” Rines said. “It is a difficult task to qualify as a top wrestler for the Lower Mainland, but this year’s goal is to do it again with an even bigger team. Just watch what we will do in Salmon Arm. We hope to come back with significant hardware.”