Lee wins national wrestling gold, heads to Pan-Am championships

Many words can already be used to describe Hapnot wrestler Carson Lee – fierce, competitive, skilled.

In a few months, he can add “world traveller” to the growing list of adjectives.

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Lee, 15, has qualified for the 2017 United World Wrestling Cadet Pan-American Championship as a member of Team Canada.

Lee will be wrestling against athletes as much as two years older than him in the 76-kg freestyle category.

Lee earned his spot after a strong showing at this year’s nationals in Windsor, Ontario. He took top spot in Canada in his class, earning a gold medal and a chance to qualify for Pan-Ams.

“The first day was the cadet division for me, that’s grades 9 to 10. I won that one and that guaranteed me a spot to try out for the U-17 trials the next day,” said Lee. “I won that one as well, which means I get to go the Pan-American Championship in July to represent Canada.”

This year’s edition of the Pan-Ams will be in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 7, 8 and 9.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Lee said. “I only got the chance to travel a little bit last year, because I didn’t do so good at nationals last year. It’s fun to be able to go to a couple of different places.

“If it works out the way it is, I might be competing when I turn 16, on my 16th birthday.”

A strong finish in the Pan-Ams would not just be a sweet birthday present – it would also punch Lee’s ticket to this year’s Cadet World Championships, to be held in Athens, Greece from September 4 to 10.

“Those are my two main tournaments I’ll have a chance to go to this year,” he said.

Lee is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Hunter, who earned bronze at last year’s Pan-Ams and a spot at Worlds.

Hunter also won two golds at nationals, in the 100-kg juvenile freestyle and the 100-kg juvenile Greco-Roman classes, picking up Male Juvenile Outstanding Wrestler awards in both.

The Lees hope to raise funds for their upcoming travels, organizing a meat draw, hot dog sale and possible Trout Festival events to offset costs.

Carson plans to bring a Flin Flon flag to Pan-Ams, much like Hunter did last year, with the signatures of area residents who helped raise funds.

In the meantime, Carson is devoting his energy to a tryout for this summer’s Canada Games in Winnipeg and a strong finish at Pan-Ams, facing a crop of wrestlers he’s never faced before.

“The only person I have a possibility of wrestling that I wrestled before is the backup for Team Canada,” Carson said. “The chances of me wrestling him are pretty slim. Usually they don’t put him in the first match. It might work out that I wrestle someone from Canada. I’ve never wrestled anyone outside of Canada that I know of.”

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