The University of Calgary hosted the CIS wrestling championship Feb. 28 to Mar. 1. Many Dino athletes competed at the meet, and, although there were a few upsets, the Dinos had an impressive showing.
The men did not have enough wrestlers to compete in each weight class and, as a result, finished fifth with 35 points, while the Brock University Badgers clinched first with 54 points. The men's individual standings were notable, with Ryan Lannan (57 kg) placing second, Adrian Macri (61 kg) sixth, Wes Barnert (72 kg) fourth, Josh Wagler (76 kg) seventh, Alex Burk (82 kg) fourth, Rhys Clark (90 kg) seventh and Mark Dewit (130 kg) first.
Dewit, the gold medalist heavyweight, wrestled an unexpectedly smart match in a weight class usually associated with brute force rather than tactics. Coach Mitch Ostberg commented fondly on Dewit's win.
"Surprisingly enough, he played, for heavyweight men, a very intelligent, tactical game," Ostberg said. "He knew when that first round didn't go his way, he'd have to bring it back and the way he did that was to keep [the score] zero-zero and go to the leg clinch. I was really pleased with Mark's intelligence out on the mat."
Dewit was equally pleased with his performance and credited past experience and hard practice as the key to his success.
"I was sticking to the game plan I had," he said. "I've wrestled this guy a lot of times before and he's got the best of me most times. I've been working my butt off, practicing twice a day."
The women's team narrowly lost out to the SFU Clan after battling neck-and-neck the entire meet. The Dinos finished the meet with a team total of 55 points, missing the first-place standing by only two points. The favoured lady wrestlesaurs team had impressive individual rankings nonetheless.
The standngs finished with Tessa Gallinger (48 kg) at seventh, Gen Haley (51 kg) first, Andrea Ross (55 kg) fourth, Jazzie Barker (59 kg) second, Justine Bouchard (63 kg) first, Stephanie Buchan (67 kg) third, Vanessa Wilson (72 kg) second and Megan Goldsmith (82 kg) third.
Ostberg, although disappointed with the narrow loss, was pleased with the girls, noting Bouchard's match as one of the more impressive of the meet.
"Bouchard absolutely dominated the competition," he said. "She was head and shoulders above all the competitors she competed against. She really showed what CIS athletes can do as wrestlers. She is a world-level competitor and she's still in her third year. That's the power of CIS wrestling development."
Also standing out as a force on the Dinos wrestling team was Haley, the women's only other first-place victor. Haley commented on her victory after a hard fought match.
"My opponent is a tough competitor," she said. "It takes everything out of me every time I wrestle her. Sometimes you can win a match but not be completely happy with how you wrestle, but I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I studied my opponents a lot, I have wrestled many of them three or four times this year and have the matches on tape, so I can review them and see how they have adjusted to me and how I have adjusted to them."
With her second CIS gold medal in as many years, Haley, and all of the Dinos wrestlers, are crossing their fingers and training hard for more victories for next year and beyond.