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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 6, 2004 - Issue 108


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History in the Making - #15
KSS Wrestlers Win GMAA Again

by Bob Oliver - The Eastern Door
credits: photo: Kahnawake Survival School wrestling team

Kahnawake Survival School wrestling teamThe last article written about the Kahnawake Survival School wrestling team had the same headline as today's. The big difference between the two is the fact that the former banner had a question mark at the end of it. This one has an exclamation point.

On Thursday, February 12, a date many of the KSS wrestlers, coaches and fans will have lodged in their heads for years to come, saw the 2003-04 edition of the storied KSS squads win an unprecedented 15th consecutive Greater Montreal Athletic Association (GMAA) team title.

Is KSS head coach David Canadian a happy camper? Was he nervous before the prestigious event and prior to the official announcement of the final team standings by emcee Bill "Circus E. Maximus" Anderson at the end of the meet?

The answer to all the above questions is spelled, y-e-s,… with a huge exclamation point. "Winning our 15th team title in a row feels real good," said Canadian, humbly understating things a tad. "We've added another page in KSS history and we managed to do it with one of, if not the smallest contingent of wrestlers in 15 years."

KSS started with 40 potential team members at the onset of the year but by the time the season started, ended up with only 20, giving proof to the adage that it's quality, not quantity that counts most.

Due to the fact that Canadian was so busy running around getting his charges prepped and ready for their bouts, he was unaware of the team point standings, and at the end of the meet Loyola's coach told the KSS mentor, his (Loyola) team had nipped out the Survival School for the title.

"The son-of-a-gun was obviously pulling my leg, but I have to be honest, it threw a scare into me because I didn't have time to keep track of what was going on in the points standings," Canadian admitted.

As it turned out, KSS pummelled second-place Loyola and nearly doubled its point total, 120-69. In fact, Loyola narrowly edged out Pierrefonds Comprehensive for the runnerup spot. The latter school finished in third place with 63 points.

"Every year we set sail in October, but this October was different because a number of key wrestlers for one reason or another decided not to join or stay with the team. Earlier in the year, when things looked bleak for us to continue our winning tradition, we had a team meeting and all the members of this season's squad were determined to stick it out and do their level best to win it all again in 2003-04. And as it turned out, they did. I'm extremely proud of all our wrestlers, not just for winning a 15th (GMAA) team title but for all their hard work and gutsy determination. All year long, there was never any quit in them."

Canadian, who is the winningest coach in GMAA sports history, was also ecstatic to see a busload of yesteryear KSS wrestlers on hand at the historic event.

"It was great to see past wrestlers at this history-making event," he stated emphatically. "It meant the world to members of our current team to have them in the stands cheering this year's contingent on to victory."

"We didn't see a crowd of past wrestlers like this all year," added KSS assistant coach Peter Montour. "The kids literally had goose-bumps when they saw all the old KSS wrestlers among the spectators."

Making history
Starting things off for KSS in the gold medal matches was 87-lb. mighty mite Trevor Paul, who made it to the top of the podium after making short work of Luigi Insolaco of Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School. Asked if he felt any pressure being the first KSS wrestler to fight for gold, he shrugged it off like a seasoned professional.

"Not at all," said Paul, adding a huge exclamation point at the end of his three-word response before continuing to say, "I've been the first (KSS) wrestler on the mat the past three years, so I'm used to it. And winning three years in a row, I can tell you, makes me very happy."

Paul's win was contagious because it inspired a host of other KSS wrestlers who were about to follow his lead.

Immediately after Paul's gold medal victory, Ronwhahawison Phillips demolished Loyola's Hayden Thomassin in the 95-lb. division. In the next battle at 103 lbs., it was an all-KSS affair between Devin Kirby and Kahion Montour with Kirby taking the gold medal and Montour winning the silver. Making it five in a row for KSS, Atenonhiatase Phillips won his gold-medal match in the 111-lb. division against Loyola's Gordon Snell while Rani Jacobs-Lahache despite suffering from a sore shoulder, beat Pierrefonds' Dean Raymond in the 119-lb. category.

"My shoulder was really bothering me midway through the match," said Jacobs-Lahache, sporting an ice-pack after the bout. "But I had to do my best to put it out of my mind. Although I'd beaten him twice before, Dean's a tough opponent and I really had to remain focused."

In another all-KSS final, Kyle Paul and Brandon Stalk put on the show of the night. In an extremely close match in the 132-lb. category, Paul eked out the gold medal with a one-point margin of victory in overtime. Stalk, younger and lighter than Paul, wrestled the match of his life to earn the silver. Many pundits at ringside said his gutsy performance was "as good as gold".

After the match Paul admitted he wasn't too thrilled about fighting a member of his own team and would have rather won his GMAA championship battling a wrestler from an opposing school.

"But anyway," he said with a smile. "I'll take the win."

Lesson learned
Hockey legend Bobby Orr once said you learn more from losing than you do from winning. Kyle Bourdeau found that out at the championship meet. Ahead on points by a large margin in his 153-lb. match against Bialik's Joshua Berkowicz, Bourdeau decided to pull out all the stops and beat his opponent with a pin. Instead, Berkowicz reversed the move and pinned Bourdeau. The KSS wrestler settled for the silver medal, and learned a valuable lesson in throwing caution to the wind. And take this to the bank. He's adamant it won't happen again in any future bouts. However, in Bourdeau's defense, coach Canadian claims it was "a very quick count".

"In my opinion, the ref slapped the mat far too soon," he said and added, "When KSS wrestlers pin a man, it seems like they have to put a grand piano on the guy before the refs slap the mat."

Another KSS wrestler who wasn't overly pleased to have finished out of the top spot, was bronze medallist Sheldon Pinsonneault. Standing on the sidelines watching the gold medal match, he looked as if he'd just lost his lifelong beau. And with good reason.

Because this year in regular-season meets, he'd beaten both GMAA gold medallist Michael Noonan of Loyola and silver medallist Shawn Errunza of Selwyn House. "I'll be back next year," he adamantly stated (with an exclamation point).

Before the 163-lb. bout, Kerry Goodleaf told The Eastern Door he was primed and ready for his gold-medal match with John Rennie's Piotr Staniszewski.

"I've wrestled him before," he said. "I know what I have to do (to win)." Goodleaf was not whistling dixie. Sticking to his fight plan to the letter, he literally destroyed his opponent en route to the championship victory.

Team anchorman Clayton Rice iced the proverbial cake by outlasting Loyola's Kyle Gregory 3-2 on points in the heavyweight division to win the last KSS gold medal of the day. According to Rice, it wasn't one of his easier matches. In fact, quite the opposite.

"I've been wrestling Kyle since I was a rookie and I've always managed to beat him," said Rice. "Today, I was out to prove a point. It was one of the toughest matches I've had this year and it was nice to finish on top…again."

Another stellar performance for KSS was Cheyanne McComber's gold-medal victory. In a no-points exhibition match against Pierrefonds Comprehensive's Katie Pitts, McComber pinned her opponent.

An unfortunate turn of events kept KSS's Hoten Moses from competing for an individual championship in the 145-lb. division. At the meet's weigh-in the previous Wednesday, Moses was banned from competition due to a viral rash on his back.

So, it's a wrap. In front of a large hometown crowd, "Dave's lean, mean KSS wrestling machine" not only got the job done once again, the class of 2003-04 has paved the road for next year's crop to continue its uninterrupted 15-year winning tradition. Adding 16 GMAA team titles to its credit in '04-05 will truly create more pages in the school's history-in-the-making.

And you can emphasize that with a humungous exclamation point!

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