STORY, PHOTOS & VIDEO: Brand new wrestling mats on display at Charles Hays

Charles Hays wrestling team head coach Dane Waldal demonstrates a take-down technique on the school’s new wrestling mats. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
Members of the Port of Prince Rupert and other donators for the mats came to check out the team in action. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
The school will now be eligible to host regional tournaments on account of their new sporting surface. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

It’s a rough sport, but the students on the Charles Hays wrestling team will be tackling it in style this year.

This is thanks to a set of new wrestling mats the school acquired earlier this year, replacing their decades old playing surface that had become a subject of numerous complaints.

“We’d been wrestling on these old ones. They stank, the kids hated them,” Dane Waldal, head coach of the Rainmakers wrestling team, said. “They didn’t have any softness, so everybody was complaining anytime they landed hard.”

“The kids are a lot more excited to come out to practice without being sore all the time.”

The mats were made possible through a number of donations from local organizations, including the Port of Prince Rupert.

“We were proud to partner with them through our Community Investment Fund to cover the final cost of the mats in order to get this project across the finish line,” Brittany Pederson, community relations coordinator with the Port of Prince Rupert, said.

“Their dedication to providing accessible, barrier-free sport to our community is unmistakable and we look forward to continuing our involvement in projects such as this that are contributing to the health and wellness, arts and culture, education and recreational opportunities for residents of the North Coast,” she added.

Students scrimmaged against each other as part of a display for people to see the new mats in action. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

READ MORE: Charles Hays wrestling on the rise

DP World, Ridley Island Terminal, Prince Rupert Grain, the CHSS PAC and the district PAC all chipped in as well to make the mats a reality. All told more than $16,000 was raised to finance the project.

The wrestling team held an open practice on Tuesday to show off the mats, and their new moves, that will now be made a lot less grueling on the new surface. The contributions also mean that Charles Hays will be able to host regional tournaments, now that they have a modern playing area.

(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

READ MORE: Conrad Elementary officially opens their new and improved playground

“I think they’re just fantastic. They’re so much better than the ones we had last year,” Jesse Sanderson-McKay, one of the students on the wrestling team, said. He added that the previous mats were decades old.

This will be the third year of action for the wrestling team since the program restarted. Waldal is excited to see the growth that will take place over the next several months.

“Last year was so much shellshock, just going to tournaments for the first time and seeing 150 other wrestlers, some of them in Team Canada jerseys,” Waldal explained.

“This year being able to go in, have some confidence, execute their moves, I’m really looking forward to their development. We’re a young team with a lot of young wrestlers, I’m really excited to see where this team is going to go athletically.”

Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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