After a season of ups and downs and multiple head-on collisions with Canada West and Canadian Interuniversity Sport rivals, the Dinos wrestling team enters a transitional season. A number of rookies join the ranks and a number of veterans prepare to end their varsity careers.
For the women, this means a whole new year of rivalry with the Simon Fraser University Clan, who took the cis pennant after the Dinos women took the CW title on home turf. For the men, the rebuilding looks to recapture the magic that put the team within a single point of the national title in 2003.
Last year's CW women's coach of the year Mitch Ostberg is back at the helm, with a slightly revamped squad. The men's team will once again be led by co-captains Joe "the Fro" Bentley (68kg) and Beamer Comfort (90kg). Both veterans have proven themselves capable of modelling at the national level.
The veterans are joined by a vast pool of rookies-some coming off impressive performances at the 2005 Canada Summer Games in Regina, such as Okotoks product and CSG champ Wes Barnert in the 72kg class, Port Alberni, B.C.'s Nathan Bodewitz in the 76kg class and Ryan Meidl (90kg), Ryan Lannan (61kg), Mark Dewit (130kg) and Shaughn Jones (54kg) of Calgary.
A well-seasoned corps of veterans has returned for the women's team as well. Despite the loss of CIS 53kg silver medalist Andrea Ross and 49kg champion Krista Wells; captain Laura McDougall (59kg) has a number of old hands like 57kg champ Brit Laverdure and 61kg bronze medallist Justine "Crusher" Bouchard.
However, the old hands will be joined by a fresh batch of new blood, like Bathurst, New Brunswick's two-time Junior National champion Rachelle Pinet (72kg), Junior Nationals and Canada Summer Games silver medalist Andrea Llewellyn (67kg) and Mackenzie, B.C.'s Canada Games team member Leah Callahan.
Many on the team agree that staying healthy to finish the whole season plus grooming the team's newest members is the key to success.
"We have a lot of young guys this year; it's been the best year for rookies," stated Comfort, who, along with Booth and Bentley, will use up his eligibility after this year. "[This year is a] time to grow the team and pass the torch just before we leave."
For the rookies, this is a year to make an impression as they begin their varsity careers. For the women, this will be a year for redemption as they take aim at their bitter Vancouver-based rivals, hoping to take the cis title away from them.
"We always have a history of doing well, so we have a high standard," explained McDougall. "We expect a lot from ourselves and it's disappointing if we don't win."
The new-look Dinos will now prove that they won't be voted off the forbidding island that is Canada West that easily, as they kick off their season with a home meet in the Red Gym Oct. 28-30.