Critical win boosts young wrestler’s confidence - Feb. 11, 2014
Samuel Côté picked the right moment to have what his wrestling coach called “the match of his life.”
Now he’s preparing to repeat the same feat in a little less than two weeks.
The Grade 10 St. Stephen High School student won a gold medal in the senior 63 kg weight category at a weekend tournament in Hampton. Though there were few athletes in the draw – two others to be exact – one of those was former national medallist Raphael Hachey.
Côté had few difficulties with the first contender (“I don’t think he had been in it very long,” Côté reflected), Hachey proved a handful out of the gate, and Côté fell behind early, as Hachey parlayed a leg attack into two three-point takedowns.
Côté managed to score three points, and a good thing he did: for Hachey had scored 12. One more point surrendered and the match would have been over, instantly. Instead, the St. Stephen wrestler returned to the mat after the break, re-energized and with a new plan.
“I had a pretty good pep talk with my coach,” said Côté. “I controlled the head, like I am supposed to,” he said, and rather than defending, attacked Hachey’s ankles, successfully working on several re-rolls that, in short order, reversed the lead.
Now Côté had a slim 13-12 lead with two minutes left in the round.
“I would say he was getting pretty frustrated at this time,” Côté reflected, and that allowed Côté to score two more points, then defend his lead until time ran out.
From such a match, Côté said he learned about the importance of being “focused going in,” but he also knows, now, he has improved, to the point he can wrestle a national champion, and a competitor in an older weight class, yet still win.
“There was no way, if you look at last year, that I was even going to come close to scoring points on the guy. My technique is getting better, and I am getting stronger, for sure,” he declared.
The victory has kindled new desires and loftier goals for Côté, who has been wrestling for five years.
“I am definitely going for nationals, this year. I am going to go for gold.”
The difference, said coach Pat Zwicker, was that Côté was nervous to start, but soon found his focus.
“He hung on, he was battling, not giving up easy points.”
Hachey’s conditioning was a factor, and paved the way for claiming points off a more fatigued opponent.
“It was pretty impressive,” said Zwicker. “He wore him down.”
Côté, Zwicker said, now knows that he’s got an edge. It’s one he will have to retain: in two weeks, the high school provincial championships take place at St. Stephen High School, and the chances are quite good that Côté will face Hachey again.
“That kid is going to be gunning for him, looking for redemption.”
The difference now, said Zwicker, is that Côté knows he can compete with a national medallist.
“It was a good confidence builder to know he can wrestle with a guy like that.”
“It would be, to date, Sam’s best wrestling match of his career,” said Zwicker, who said it may have been the best match of the tournament.
As a Grade 10 youth, there are many elements Côté can work on – but all elements that can improve with time.
“The mental – that was the biggest part. He knows he can beat the kid now.”
Other strong efforts included gold-medal outings from Rebecca Richard, Nick Goleniec and Jake Hughes, while silver medals went to Max Thomas, Braydon Ross and Nate Anderson.