Jake Cartman is in England watching the Olympics and taking part in a wrestling tour with the Ontario under-20 development squad.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
Renfrew wrestler Jake Cartman is off to the London Olympic Games.
He’s not an Olympian, but he is a hungry competitor who is spending time in England watching Olympic wrestling matches, in addition to training and competing with Ontario’s under-20 development squad.
Cartman, 16, is expected to compete against wrestlers from Great Britain, Austria and United States at a wrestling academy in Manchester, north of London.
Parents Susanne and Don are big supporters of his wrestling. So are members of the Renfrew Amateur Wrestling Club, like coach Harry Smith and Grant Lavallee, Cartman’s first coach when Cartman got involved in the sport as a Grade 4 student.
Smith, who was away on holidays, wasn’t available to talk about Cartman’s development in the sport. But Lavallee was.
Lavallee, who has helped cement a strong relationship for Cartman and other Renfrew club wrestlers with Olympic wrestlers in Montreal, says Cartman is a talented, inquisitive youngster with loads of potential.
“He takes the sport fairly seriously, and even more seriously now that he sees a future in the sport,” said Lavallee, noting Cartman regularly asks questions in efforts to improve.
“He has coached at a number of elementary schools, and every single school where he has coached has asked him back,” added Lavallee.
“He doesn’t talk very much, but when he has to, he does an excellent job. He presents himself well and the kids he has coached have all been very successful.
“He’s also enquiring. He’s thinking and looking, knowing he has to keep improving. He’s one of those kids who has gotten a silver at the (age-group) nationals and he still knows (and accepts that) he has a lot to learn.”
Cartman’s time with Ontario’s under-20 development squad has taken him abroad before, to competitions in Michigan and Puerto Rico where he has wrestled well.
Now 5-foot-5, he competes in the 63-kg. (138.6-pound) division.
Whether he’s in England or elsewhere, he says he mostly tries to bring forth a positive attitude. “I try to go out and do my best and perform well,” said the teenager, who would like to qualify for national teams. “I want to be better than I am.”
With that goal in mind, he usually spends a couple of days each month training at the Montreal Wrestling Club, whose members include three Olympians – wrestlers Martine Dugrenier and Dave Tremblay and coach Victor Zilberman.
“Wrestling with Olympians is pretty cool, just to say you’ve been able to wrestle with an Olympian,” says Cartman.
He was first drawn to wrestling after watching World Wrestling Entertainment matches on television.
“I thought wrestling for your school would be awesome because I thought it would be like WWE. It wasn’t, but it turned out to be just as fun.”
The visit to England with the under-20 team should be fun too, and not just because of the wrestling and the opportunity to watch Olympic wrestling and soccer matches.
Before departing, Ontario squad members were encouraged to pick up Canadian Olympic souvenirs to swap. So Cartman has done just that for his Aug. 5 to 14 visit to the land of the Olympics.
Cartman has been a member of Ontario’s under-20 development team program since 2010.