Smithers wrestlers Jamie Tersago and Alex Schell travelled to Canadian National competitions in Guelph, Ontario two weekends ago and though neither placed on the podium, both enjoyed the event and have already begun preparing for next season.
Tersago was looking good early on in the competition. She handily won her first match over her opponent, but in her second bout of the event, she injured her shoulder, partially dislocating it, and was forced to withdraw from the tournament.
“It was a little disappointing,” Tersago said.
“I’ve been having problems with my shoulder and I was worried that something might happen to it.”
That was the second year of bad luck in a row at nationals for Tersago. She was forced to withdraw because of an injury last year as well.
Her training partner, Alex Schell, also didn’t fare as well as she would have liked.
She lost her first match against a wrestler from Ontario and then her second against her main rival, Alyssa Kroeker, from Penticton.
“It was tough because I’ve beaten her before,” Schell said. “We’ve wrestled a few times, and every time it’s close.”
Still, winning provincials and making it to the nationals was a major accomplishment in and of itself for Schell and Tersago.
“I tried not to set an outcome or a goal, I just wanted to go there, wrestle, have fun and enjoy the experience,” Schell said.
Before the competition began, Tersago and Schell travelled to the University of Alberta to train with their wrestling team for a week over spring break.
“We learned a lot watching them,” Tersago said. “Lots of specific things, but also, just knowing how fast you can improve once you hit university.”
While they were there they got a glimpse into the future when they watched the junior and senior university nationals.
“It was really cool to get to practice with them and train with them,” Schell said.
At the end of the week Tersago committed to the University of Alberta for next season.
“I had a few universities trying to recruit me,” Tersago said.
“But I really got along with the coaches and the girls there during the week. It just felt right.”
Tersago plans to study Kinesiology, while attempting to make the first string wrestling team in the 53kg division next year.
Schell still has one year of school left, but she is also considering the university wrestling route.
“I’m definitely thinking about it,” Schell said. “I think it would be a fun thing to do and it seems like Smithers wrestlers have connections everywhere.”
Those connections are in large part because of their coaches, Don Roy and Mike Ritchie, who are well recognized and respected all over western Canadian wrestling circles.
“We have a really good wrestling program in Smithers, for such a small town,” Tersago said.
“Our coaches have taught us a lot, helping us become more confident and teaching us discipline.”
“When we travel to tournaments, everyone knows who they are,” Schell said. “They have a great reputation.”
Now that the season is over, both wrestlers will take a break, and prepare for next season.
Though Grade 11 Schell will no longer have her graduating training partner to spar with next season.
“It’s going to be tough without Jamie,” Schell said. “She is my training partner, we wrestle all the time.”
But a reunion, as opponents or teammates, may only be a year away.