By Josh Johnson
Breanne Graham’s achievements read like a laundry list of things to do in an amateur wrestling career.
‘Winning is familiar territory for Graham, but when you travel halfway around the world to compete against seven of the world’s top wrestling nations, winning is never a given. Nonetheless, Graham found a way to land near the top of the pile yet again, taking home a bronze medal from the Women’s World Cup of Wrestling in Tokyo, Japan.
Graham’s gritty style has always been a strong factor in her success on the mat.
"I think I could be described as a grinder, I like to control positioning and keep up a constant pressure on my opponent," Graham explained. "My strategy is basically to physically and mentally wear them down, outlast them to the point where they make a mistake and then I capitalize."
Dinos wrestling coach Mitch Ostberg chalks up Graham’s success to her strong character and work ethic.
"Breanne is very tenacious, she is not flashy but she has great basics and is always on her opponent," he observed. "She’s very smart, always controlling their arms, dictating the pace."
Though the tournament ended with success, things did not look good for Graham after the first day of competition.
"I lost my first two matches. I was extremely disappointed," she lamented. "I really had to improve, so I refocused and came out with a strong showing in day two."
She did not bother to mention her 10-hour flight, her severe cold, or the fact that the first three teams Canada competed against were the top three in the world as reasons for her early disappointment. Graham isn’t the type to make excuses.
Day two was an entirely different story. With fresh legs and her cold all but gone, Graham destroyed three consecutive opponents. The victory over Russia had special meaning for her and the team.
"Beating Russia was an amazing accomplishment," Graham exclaimed. "It was the first time in history Canada has ever defeated Russia at an event of this magnitude. I feel real good about that win."
The team was especially competitive with China, who was seen as a dominant force going into the tournament. Canada, anchored by Graham, threw China around, coming out on top with a whopping 20-6 triumph.
"Breanne was very dominant against the Chinese team," Ostberg explained. "She was ahead of her opponent the entire match."
The Canadian team, ranked sixth coming in, surprised the competition with their brute force, overpowering many of their opponents on their way to a very successful third place finish. Graham is a very proud Canadian after this past week.
"It’s an honour to be handed the ball for your country, being a part of such a successful group is topping on the cake," Graham beamed. "As Canadians we always like to prove to the world that we are the best. We knew we were better than sixth and we proved it."
With yet another notch on her belt, Graham knows the sky is the limit to what she can accomplish on the amateur wrestling scene. What is next on her list, you ask?
"I’m very excited to go to Olympic trials," Graham exclaimed. "I’ll be wrestling heavier than usual, up from 59 to 63 kg, but I am pumped nonetheless."
In the short term though, Graham is focused on the task at hand with her Dino teammates, a young, green crew that will be looking to her for much-needed guidance and leadership.
"We have a young team this year so things may be a little more difficult," explained Graham. "Of course we want Canada West and the CIS championship but without the experience it could be a bit tougher. But don’t count us out."
As for herself, Graham would like to regain the Canada West title. She is also eyeing another CIS title. I suppose all a wrestler can do, once she has done already done everything, is do it again.