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Saanich wrestler grabs third straight B.C. title

Nationals loom large for Claremont secondary competitor
Claremont secondary’s Nolan Mitchell

Nolan Mitchell has gold on his mind.

Never mind that he captured his third straight B.C. High School Wrestling Championships gold medal recently in Prince George.

The gold he’s mining for is the reward for a national champion.

Mitchell, a 17-year-old grappler who attends Claremont secondary in Grade 11 but trains in Duncan with the Cowichan Valley Wrestling Club, will compete for Team B.C. at the 2014 Asics Juvenile Canadian championships April 4 to 6 in Guelph, Ont.

“I love the trip and the competition, but I want to bring back the gold,” said Mitchell, who competed in the past two national tournaments and finished third both times.

He expects to see many of the same opponents, but has a good feeling about his chances this time around. “I think they’re pretty good, but it always depends on who comes,” he said.

That modesty somewhat matches his style on the mats.

Wresting for the 48-kilogram division gold medal at the B.C. high school tournament, Mitchell fell behind 2-0 after the first of two rounds, having been pushed out of bounds twice by opponent Navdeep Toor of Rick Hansen secondary in Coquitlam.

Not one to get flustered, Mitchell stuck to his strategy of looking for openings, striking quickly and keeping consistent pressure on his opponent and came away with an 8-5 win.

“It all depends who I’m wrestling, but I always like to stay a little bit conservative,” he says. “I wasn’t letting him control the match and the movement.”

The win was Mitchell’s fourth (fifth) without a loss in the double-knockout draw.

The nationals feature the same format, with wrestlers who lose an early first match being forced to take a long route back to the medal round.

One other Greater Victoria wrestler made top five at the provincials. Mitchell Keeping from Esquimalt High placed fifth in the 74-kg division.