Duo a beacon for Sudbury Secondary’s wrestling program
In an instant, Wylie pounces and turns the tables. He pushes his foe’s shoulders to the mat for the clean pin and the victory.
A while later, Wylie would have his arms raised as the NOSSA champion for the 57.5-kilogram weight class. Since taking up the sport on a whim, the young man, known as “Wrestling Willy” in the halls of Sudbury Secondary School, has come a long way in two seasons.
Wylie has become a beacon for the school’s wrestling program, enticing younger athletes to take up the sport.
He isn’t doing it alone though. Wylie has a lot of help from another newcomer to the sport, Erica Turcotte — a scrappy, big-heart-small-body girl who means business on the mat and has drawn a lot of attention for all the right reasons.
Turcotte also clear-cut a path to NOSSA gold (44-kg category). She has been a big voice around the school for wrestling. Between these two and coach Jeff Pilon, something big is brewing at Sudbury Secondary in regards to wrestling.
“I would challenge any other students to follow in their footsteps because they are role models,” Pilon said. “They have done a lot and mean a lot to the wrestling program at Sudbury Secondary. Our numbers are going to double because of these two.
“They are ambassadors for the sport and they make people around them feel good about themselves.”
Wylie, a Grade 11 student, took his fair share of lumps in his first year and is putting those hard lessons to work for him this season.
Last year, he finished fifth at NOSSA in his weight class and was, as his coach put it, completely destroyed by an opponent. Back at the Northern Ontario finals this season, Wylie faced the same foe, but it was his turn to dish out the beating.
“I play other sports, but wrestling is, by far, the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” the 16-year-old said. “I love it. I’m going to do whatever it takes not to lose.
“Every match, there are times when I imagine it would be easier for me to give up. I don’t, though. I think about how hard I work and how much I want to win, and I will not let it go for anything.”
Grade 10 student Turcotte took up the sport fewer than seven months ago. A teacher told her to give wrestling a chance because she was feisty. Turcotte did and, like Wylie, fell in love with the sport instantly, finding traits she didn’t know she had.
“I have learned if I pick a goal and fight all I can for it, I can accomplish a lot,” the 15-year-old said. “I found out I am stronger, both mentally and physically, than I thought.
“This is what wrestling has given me. It has also pushed me to be better in school and get good grades because I want a scholarship.”
Wylie and Turcotte are the leaders of the school’s wrestling program. They shine not just for their results on the mat, but because of their relentless work ethic and desire to win.
“There is no one more devoted than Billy,” Pilon said. “He doesn’t miss practice and goes five nights a week. He is honest and comes out determined to be his best at practice or matches.
“Erica is a natural. She is tough and can be pushed to her limit because she will not crack. Student athletes like these two really boost my spirits. They are the foundation of our program.”
Both Wylie and Turcotte were in Guelph competing at the OFSAA wrestling championship (March 5-6) with more than 20 local wrestlers.
Joining them were: Andrew Paris, Joey Lapointe, Dustin Pretty, Brandon Jalbert, Dakota Pretty, Devin McComber, Tim Glasgow, Kyle Fletcher, Sara Lachance, Taylor Montana, Kole Paulin-Poitras and Sydney Henniger from Lasalle; Logan Blanchard and Ella Proulx from Lo-Ellen Park.
Also OFSAA bound are Jarred Lafond and Ethan Draper from MacDonald-Cartier; Joel Lamontagne from Champlain; Alexandre Senechal from St. Benedict; Bauer Negrych from Chelmsford; Cheyenne Ziegler and Charlene Lapointe from Confederation; Victoria Day from Lockerby; Alexie Legault and Amanda Dwy er from Notre-Dame and Emilie Charette and Sierra Howald from Sacré-Coeur.
Scott Haddow has been writing about sports in Greater Sudbury for the past 10 years.