Badgers national champions in wrestling

Another year, and another national wrestling championship for Brock University’s men’s wrestling team. In what has become standard fare for Canadian Inter-University Sports (CIS) wrestling championships, Brock captured their fifth consecutive men’s crown, this time relying on a climactic, last-match showdown with Calgary to determine the overall winner.

The storybook ending, perhaps something only Hollywood could draft, had Calgary leading the overall team tally with 60 points heading into the last men’s match of the day. Calgary put underdog Damon Booth on the mat to try to hold onto the championship. Brock, with 59 points, and tied with Simon Fraser University (SFU) countered with Evan MacDonald for the 68-kg showdown.

The drama did not last long –about 1:14 — when MacDonald danced around the mat celebrating a 10-0 win on technical superiority, and ultimately, Brock’s overall championship.

The road there was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Calgary, Brock and SFU all entered the final day of the competition in a virtual deadlock on points, and all three schools had qualified athletes for four gold medal matches.

Brock had Jamie Macari, Adam Fera, Ryan Weicker and MacDonald qualifying for the men’s. Heather Sweezey was Brock’s lone female representative.

Macari started things off with a pinfall victory over the same man he defeated two weeks previous in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championships.

Macari said afterwards that the key to his victory was a “selfish” attitude on the mat, ignoring for a minute what the team wanted, and just trying to be the best he can.

Next on the mat was Fera. The number four ranked Fera was in tough against number three ranked Roozbeh Banihashini, a man who had beat him in their previous encounter. Again, Banihashini came out by the narrowest of margins, 2-1. However, Fera had already contributed well to his team’s goal, as he had earlier defeated top-ranked Jon Rioux of UNB in the preliminary rounds. The points were well needed.

Weicker, who was perhaps in the biggest pressure position, had to face last year’s CIS Champion at the 65-kg class, Mickey Jutras. Weicker’s win would ensure that MacDonald would get the chance to face off for the overall title. A loss would mean that Brock could do no better than a second-place tie.

After a convincing 8-1 win, a jubilant Weicker said, “I could’ve beat anyone out there with the way I felt.”

He also emphasized the team title though, stating that the individual gold meant a lot, but the team gold means more to him, because “everyone is happy together.”

“Weicker was on a mission,” head coach Richard DesChataletes said.

Thus the stage was set for MacDonald’s triumph, and after the referee raised MacDonald’s arm, the wrestlers poured out to greet the winner and the celebration was on.

“They had a tremendous amount of pressure,” said DesChataletes. “But we felt positive [before MacDonald’s match] … and we glued together as a team.”

Before the gold medal matches, Brock needed some prime-time performances in the bronze medal round, and no one disappointed.

Clint Kingsbury rebounded from a disappointing performance against Ron Boucher two weeks ago, to win 10-0 on technical superiority over the same man. Kingsbury had a fantastic tournament overall, almost defeating favourite Mike Stitt in the preliminaries.

Kingsbury was jacked after the match, stating “there was nothing I wanted more.”

Kyle Sweezey won bronze, despite coming in ranked seventh in the 72-kg weight class. Jay Allin also managed a bronze medal, coming back from a 2-0 deficit early to win 13-3 on technical superiority.

Brock’s women’s team was impressive as well in defending their national title from last year, finished third overall. The competition was stiff, as they were forced to deal with a talented Calgary team, and the inclusion of SFU, who dominated the competition and won the overall title with 51 points, to Calgary’s 33 and Brock’s 26.

Sweezey was champion in the 57-kg class, recovering from a slow start to dominate the second half and win 12-2. Sweezey was Brock’s lone participant in the gold medal round for the women.

In the bronze medal round, Brock was represented by Megan Dolan in the 65-kg class, and Laura Jones in the 70-kg class. Dolan was up 3-2 before she was pinned by Breanne Graham of Calgary. Jones fell 8-0 to Ashlea McManus of SFU.

“We can’t see how the women could have done much better,” commented DesChataletes. “I’m very proud of how they fared.”

The major coup of the weekend was the men’s title which was fiercely fought for. Brock did battle with the Dinos of Calgary, perennial contenders for the overall crown, but also the SFU team, who were competing in Canada for the first time after competing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. “It was a major feather in our cap to do that,” commented DesChataletes.

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