Monday October 2nd, 2023

With the upcoming GMAA/RSEQ season about to begin in a month, some of the high school teams have already begun to practice. The GMAA/RSEQ always represents a large portion of where our athletes come from at the youth level and this year promises to be a good one.

The league last year was at its largest since the 1990s, as far as number of schools go. Twelve schools in total competed, with newcomers Royal Vale High School coming into the mix and Royal West Academy making a return after a thirty one year absence. This year, the league will see another increase as schools that have been absent for a long time will also be making a return. These schools are Lower Canada College, Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School and St-Thomas High School, bringing our total up to fifteen schools.

It’s with this in mind, I thought it would be fun exercise to give a preview on the teams and what I think can be expected from them. I’ve divided the league into three sections by regions, since this may be what the league may look like in an effort to cut down on transportation costs. I’ve also named them unofficially so take that with a grain of salt. Here are the three divisions and which schools will be a part of them:

Island Schools West Island Schools Off-Island Schools
Beurling Academy John Rennie High School École Secondaire P.G. Ostiguy
Lower Canada College Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School Heritage Regional High School
Loyola High School St-Thomas High School Howard S. Billings High School
Royal Vale High School Westwood High School Kahnawake Survival School
Royal West Academy Massey Vanier High School
Selwyn House School

Island Schools

Beurling Academy
Coach: Jeroo Jamaji Beurling Academy is a team that defies the odds as it has won league titles multiple times in both the boys and the girls divisions. In addition to this, wrestlers from Beurling have gone on to represent Quebec at the National Championships, The Canada Games and the World Championships. Beurling is always a team that produces good athletes and is one to watch out for.
Placement last year: Boys 4th Girls 5th
Lower Canada College
Coach: Noel Tremblay Coach Noel Tremblay looks to revive a school that has not seen a program since 1992. In addition to this, LCC at the time was composed only of boys. With boys and girls now in attendance, Coach Tremblay will look to build on his many years of experience coaching his own successful club at Thailong Wrestling.
Loyola High School
Coach: Aly Barghout Coach Aly comes into his third season as coach of Loyola High School. Starting off as an assistant to 2021 Olympian Jordan Steen, Aly has been the head coach of the school for a year now.  The defending GMAA/RSEQ Champions, Loyola now looks to add girls to their program, making them an exciting prospect.
Placement last year: Boys GMAA/RSEQ Champions
Royal Vale High School
Coach: Gabriel Choueke Royal Vale came into the league, thanks largely in part to their administration. Their vice-principal, being a former wrestler at Laurenhill High School, wanted to get a program going and a promising team was born. Royal Vale will look to build on their strong start from last year as they had several athletes competing for medals at the city championships.
Placement last year: Boys 8th
Royal West Academy
Coach: Jason Chen Coming into the second year of a program will always bring its new set of challenges. While some athletes on my team have graduated, I look forward to welcoming in a new set and building a team from the ground on up. Wrestlers from last year who came in as rookies are now one more year advanced and that will create a positive atmosphere going forward.
Placement last year: Boys tied for 6th Girls tied for 7th
Selwyn House School
Coach: Rob Moore Selwyn House’s presence can never be overlooked as they have won league titles in the past as well as produced athletes that have competed at the high performance level. Coach Moore is highly regarded for producing well prepared and well-developed athletes and Selwyn House will always field a competitive team in any given year. They will hope to build on their second place finish from last year and challenge for the title.
Placement last year: Boys 2nd

Coach Bargout will look to repeat as GMAA/RSEQ Champions

West Island Schools

John Rennie High School
Coach: Chris Kinsella John Rennie has had a long presence in the league. As a Sport-Études school, their tradition for producing athletic excellence is a strong one and they’ve had success in the past as far as wrestling is concerned. John Rennie welcomes athletes from a large demographic in the West-Island and should field a good team this year.
Placement last year: Boys 7th
Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School
Coach: Josef Azam After a long absence, PCHS makes a welcome return to the league. The school was last league champions during the dominance of the KSS teams of the 90s. They too, have produced athletes that have competed at the nationals and the Canada Games so having them back in the league is definitely a positive.
St-Thomas High School
Coach: Graeme Burns St-Thomas will be in good hands as Coach Burns looks to bring in his experience as a National Champion and high-performance athlete. As with all new programs coming in, they will take time to grow but the outlook is a positive one as St-Thomas has a strong tradition in sports and this will most likely carry over to the wrestling team.
Westwood High School
Coach: Sylvain Luneau Westwood High School has been around for many years and has had some good wrestlers come out of the program, including current Canadian U23 World Team member, Jason Luneau. Sylvain has many years of experience in developing young athletes and this translates well to the high school level.
Placement last year: Boys 5th Girls 6th

Billings vesus Selwyn, a battle of two Top Three schools

Off-Island Schools

École Secondaire P.G. Ostiguy
Coach: Dominique Choquette PGOs presence in the league can never be underestimated. Though only being a part of the GMAA/RSEQ for a short period, they have already won the league with the boys and have come close with the girls. PGO’s program can boast athletes that have competed at all levels on the National and International stage, which is quite an accomplishment.
Placement last year: Boys tied for 6th Girls tied for 7th
Heritage Regional High School
Coach: Marc Roache Heritage has had some excellent athletes compete for them in previous years. Coach Roache has been to the Pan-Am and World Championships with his athletes from Heritage and has seen success at the national and international level. With this pedigree, how can you not be excited for their prospects this year?
Placement last year: Boys tied for 9th Girls 4th
Howard S. Billings High School
Coach: Peter Montour Wrestling is on the rise on HSBS as they hosted last year’s championships and the All-Star Meet. Coach Montour, has been involved for many years, bringing athletes from the high school and club level to the national championships and Canada Games. Billings had a strong season last year as they placed third amongst the boys and second amongst the girls.
Placement last year: Boys 3rd Girls 2nd
Kahnawake Survival School
Coach: Brandon Stalk A traditional powerhouse in the league, KSS will be looking to come out strong. The school had athletes compete at this summer’s North American Indigenous Games and this should give them a boost of confidence. Fielding a good amount of boys and girls, look to KSS to be competitive on both the boys and girls side.
Placement last year: Boys tied for 9th Girls 3rd
Massey Vanier High School
Coach Jason Senkerik Massey Vanier comes in as the defending champions of the league, having won it last year for the girls. This is a great accomplishment and one they’ll look to repeat this year. The school has a longstanding wrestling tradition, having won and hosted the championships in years past.
Placement last year: Boys tied for 6th Girls GMAA/RSEQ Champions

So there you have it. The league definitely has a different flavour this year. The addition of new teams, plus having more girls teams will hopefully translate into more athletes progressing on to higher levels. On a personal note, I think a concerted effort needs to be made in bringing more French schools into the league. Whether this is done on the island or off the island will be determined as always by the factors that I had outlined in a previous blog. This includes the amount of available and qualified coaches as well as the support from the community and school. Hopefully, as the league continues to expand, we can get this. I look forward to the day where wrestling has more than twenty schools in the league and is widely supported amongst the community and the province.