Colton Koopmans of Maple Ridge secondary won bronze in the Greco-Roman division at the Canadian juvenile wrestling championships this past weekend in New Brunswick, despite only practicing the style a handful of times.
Koopmans, a Grade 12 student, has been a member of Maple Ridge Ramblers wrestling team for the past five years, competing provincially in the freestyle discipline.
“In freestyle you can basically use any part of your body, but in Greco-Roman, you can’t touch below the waist, so there’s a lot more throws,” said Koopmans. “They’re worlds apart, and I’ve only practiced [Greco-Roman] a couple of times, so I was a little surprised to do that well. I wasn’t expecting to medal.”
Koopmans competed in the 63-kg weight class at the tournament in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. He finished in the top 10 in the country in the freestyle competition with a 3-2 record.
“The level of competition was incredible,” said Koopmans. “You don’t know anyone beforehand, so you can’t underestimate anyone.”
Koopmans qualified for the national tournament with a silver medal finish at provincials in Penticton last month.
When not training with his wrestling team, Koopmans practices mixed martial arts at Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Maple Ridge, something that he says helped him in the Greco-Roman competition.
Bill McCrae, head coach of the Maple Ridge secondary wrestling team, said he wasn’t surprised by Koopmans’ strong finish at nationals, given his unpredictable style.
“He’s very unorthodox,” said McCrae. “He has a very eclectic style. You never know what is coming from him.”
While most kids were on vacation for spring break, McCrae said Koopmans spent nearly every moment of the two weeks training.
Koopmans’ bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling helped B.C. win the overall team competition at the meet, with more than 10 national champions hailing from the West Coast.
Koopmans was supposed to be joined on the trip to nationals by Maple Ridge teammate Brodie McKenzie. However, McKenzie suffered a knee injury last week while training at Simon Fraser University that required surgery, preventing him from competing at nationals.
While McKenzie will be wrestling next year for the SFU Clan, Koopmans will be suiting up for Douglas College’s wrestling team, where he plans to study criminal justice and pursue a career in law enforcement.