The History of Bishop Ryan Wrestling
FROM THE BEGINNING
The B.R. program even though successful in producing individual champions still had not dominated as a team in the province but that was soon to change. In 1981 the B.R. Celtics savored its first taste of team dominance as it placed second at OFSAA and later that year a young Chris Woodcroft won his first Canadian title as a B.R. Celtic. Chris would go on in his career to become a two-time Olympian (1988 & 1992) and B.R.'s first graduate to achieve this level. The B.R. wrestling dynasty was emerging and in 1982 Bishop Ryan captured its first OFSAA Team Championship. The Celtic wrestling team went on to win the OFSAA Team Title four times and placed second three times from 1981 to 1987. The B.R. wrestling program had become the top high school wrestling program in Ontario and probably in Canada.
A TIME OF CHANGE
Coach Mancini left teaching in 1988 and with it his head coaching position of the B.R. wrestling program. The principal, not wanting to end the program at B.R., recruited a young wrestler and certified math/phys-ed teacher from the McMaster Wrestling program. John Di Benedetto, a product of both the B.R. Wrestling program (1978-82) and McMaster Wrestling program (1982-87), took over the B.R. team in February of 1988. With only four weeks with his newly adopted team, Coach Di Benedetto guided his wrestlers to a Bronze Team finish at the 1988 OFSAA Championships. At the 1989 OFSAA Championships, coach Di Benedetto brought B.R. their first ever Four-Time OFSAA Champion as Greg Woodcroft captured his fourth consecutive OFSAA Title and like his brother Chris, Greg went on to graduate to the McMaster Varsity Wrestling program and was our Canadian Olympic representative at the 52kg class at the '96 Olympics, taking over were his brother left off. It was thought that the likes of Greg Woodcroft would never again be seen on the B.R. wrestling team but that too would change.
In September of 2012 the BR Wrestling Program received a tremendous boost when we received the news that our own alumnus Sheldon Francis was to join the BR teaching staff and hence become BR's newest wrestling coach. Sheldon has come home to his wrestling roots and quickly took control of the BR team. In only his first season with the team, Sheldon has put BR wrestling back on the OFSAA Wrestling stage by placing 7 athletes on the podium at the 2013 OFSAA Wrestling Championships and leading the team to a Silver Medal Team finish. This marks the 18th time in Bishop Ryan's school history that the Wrestling team has placed in the top 3 at OFSAA.
THE DAWNING OF A NEW ERA
50 YEARS OF BISHOP RYAN WRESTLING
Entering its 50th year of BR wrestling, the program achieved a level of success that has not been matched by any other high school in Ontario. The 2018-19 season had Bishop Ryan qualifying a record number of wrestlers (total of 28) to Ottawa for the 2019 OFSAA Wrestling Championships. The BR Wrestling Team completed its 50th season by once again being crowned 2019 OFSAA COMBINED TEAM CHAMPIONS and the girls team capturing its second consecutive OFSAA TEAM TITLE with the boys taking an OFSAA Silver Team medal.
This brings us to present day as the Bishop Ryan Wrestling program celebrates its 51st Season and has produced a total of 45 individual OFSAA Champions(an OFSAA record), 41 Silver Medalists, 30 Bronze Medalists, 23 Antique Bronze Medallists, 27 fifth place and 25 sixth place finishes, a total of 139 medals and 191 top 6 place finishes. The program continues to strive to introduce the sport of Freestyle Wrestling to young athletes in the hopes that some may experience the thrill of competing for Canada at the international level and hopefully the Olympics.