Every setting needs a class clown. From lecture halls to boardrooms, there is always a need for someone to lighten up the atmosphere; to make people laugh out loud.
In the University of Calgary athletic community, that role is performed by the men's wrestling team. For example, several members of the team have joined the fledgeling cheerleading squad, in order to help the girls perform some strength-based maneuvers.
"Ryan Andrusky and Damon Booth are the concrete base of the pyramid," said captain Mike Stitt with a broad grin.
"I have big arms," quickly explained Booth.
On a more serious note, the Dinos wrestling program (male and female) is just as outstanding this year as it has been in years past. Head Coach Mitch Ostberg and his staff are among the finest in Canada, and the few proud athletes who don the red and gold are perennial candidates for national championships.
And then there's the class-clown factor. When the Gauntlet covers the wrestlers' antics, our readers always get a laugh. So in that spirit, a recap of the Dinos season thus far is certainly in order.
The Dinos greatest achievement this fall came at an exhibition meet on Oct. 25 where Calgary defeated the now top-ranked Simon Fraser University Clan. SFU is likely to be the Dinos' biggest competition for a national title on both sides of the gender divide, so the result was huge.
"The team's the best it has been in a while," said Stitt. "We really got a big win there."
"We're thick," added Booth, who is having a standout second-year. "We have a lot of depth."
Stitt has carried the load on the men's side along with cheerleaders Booth and Andrusky who both had outstanding results at last weekend's Husky Open in Saskatchewan.
Booth won his weight class, and Andrusky came second.
A young women's team is getting balanced contributions from veterans like Breanne Graham and rookies like Lynda Little. Little finished second in Saskatchewan, and by all accounts, is having a solid season.
The men's side, however, is suffering from three high-profile injuries. Sophomore Joe Bentley has seen limited action because of shoulder problems, co-captain Dave Kooperberg is also out, and heavyweight Jeremy "Wild Thing" Rudack has a sore calf or ankle.
"He has a sore 'cankle,'" laughed Booth. "It's the fat. You don't know where the ankle ends and the calf begins."
All three wrestlers are expected to be active after January, and the men's team will get even stronger.
Over the course of the break, both teams will travel to San Francisco for training camp. Thanks to their coaches' "hook-ups" and "connections," the Dinos will arrive in California after Christmas, and leave for a tournament at Washington State University before resuming their regular season in January.