Wrestling may be the toughest sport in the world. One-on-one raw intensity, unmatched by any team sport, makes freestyle wrestling competition not just one of the oldest, but also one of the toughest athletic events known to man. Strength, speed and smarts all help make a good wrestler. Good news for Dinos' fans: the University of Calgary has plenty of good wrestlers, both male and female.
Last season was very good to Dinos, with the wrestlers capturing the Canada West crown in men's competition en route to the runner-up spot at the national championships. The women were even more impressive, easily cruising to a national title. Head Coach Mitch Ostberg was named Coach of the Year to top off an impressive season for Calgary.
This year's team looks just as formidable as last year's edition. With veterans like Andy Hutchinson and D.J. Ledrew gone for greener pastures of club competition, captain Brad Neve and veterans Joe Loucks and Mike Stitt are expected to step up and carry the team to success in the new season.
The Dinos had their first dual meet of the year last Friday against the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Manitoba. The Huskies and the Bisons both fell easily as Calgary defeated them 31-10 and 28-12 respectively. David Kooperberg, Hakan Kadir and Neve led the Dinos, all winning both their matches on the way to an easy Calgary win.
On Saturday the U of C hosted the Dino Cup, an open competition for club members as well as varsity teams. The club Dinos came in second behind Simon Fraser University's Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club in the standings, with former varsity greats like Hutchinson and Wade Elliot leading the way. The varsity Dinos beat all other universities in the competition, led by Kadir and Neve's impressive third-place finishes.
"As a team we did really good, we got the varsity title," smiled Kadir. "Our coach is really happy with that."
As for Neve, he was the Dinos leader on and off the mat. He wrestled two consecutive matches to end the tournament, a feat which required amazing cardiovascular endurance and mental toughness.
"That was amazing," said Kadir of his teammate. "Brad is our captain and our inspiration. He really impressed everyone this week."
The Dinos look well on their way to another solid season on the mat. With the bulk of last year's team members still in the fold, Calgary looks poised for another run at the national crown.