This past weekend the Brock Men’s Wrestling team asserted their dominance at home, proving their athleticism as Brock welcomed the CIS National Championship at the Bob Davis Gym; students, coaches, families and the best crowd in CIS came to watch our Badgers go head-to-head against universities all over Canada.
Much to their success the Men’s team was able to walk away with their third straight CIS National Championship. All ten wrestlers collected a medal finishing with two gold, six silver, two bronze and 80 points overall. While Brock placed first, McMaster finished second with 52 points and Concordia and Guelph tied the third spot both with 41 points each.
Prior to the big celebration the Men’s team went through the qualifying rounds and head Coach Marty Calder wasn’t exactly expecting the outcome from Friday’s events.
“[In the] first session, we didn’t lose a match. Second session we lost one which is unheard-of,” explained Calder. “Then we lost two in the third so we lost three matches [Friday] so I was trying to avoid the disastrous thinking of, ‘hey we’re starting to lose some matches here’. Instead we tried to keep things in perspective and keep the guys motivated and hungry to win. Seeing a loss and going back we realized that we need to do some work while being humble [with the wins we have].”
But as the men ended Friday’s events with some much needed rest, they prepared themselves for the fight as Clayton Pye started off the excitement for the Badgers during his bronze medal match.
Pye, who is a first-year Psychology major, was crowned Rookie of the Year two weeks ago as he won gold at the OUA wrestling tournament.
Pye squared up in the 90kg match against Nick Proctor from Calgary. The match went in Pye’s favour right away as we collected three points within seconds while then collecting two more points to end the first round 5-0. Pye quickly ended the second round as he collected four points ending the match 11-0.
During the match Pye had his upper body wrapped up as he was suffering from an injury. When asked about what happened, Pye explained, “I broke my collarbone at the OUA’s and I spent the last two weeks really trying to rehabilitate it. It wasn’t exactly ready when I decided to enter but [the coaches and I] figured I’d do my best at CIS and score some points for the team title.”
Surely walking away with a win while battling a broken collarbone is a huge hurdle to jump over, and that alone proved how deserving Pye is for being recognized as Rookie of the Year.
“It feels great,” explained Pye. “It was a great feeling since it’s my first year as a varsity wrestler and it felt really good to be recognized for my accomplishments.”
Second up, in the bronze medal matches was Brock’s Chance Mutuku. He wrestled in the 76kg round as he took on his rematch opponent from the OUA’s, Bradly MaGarrey from McMaster.
Mutuku is a second-year Kinesiology major who won gold at the OUA’s and did not participate in the CIS last year.
Mutuku took an early lead in the first round and he quickly collected three points. He then ended the round in the lead 7-0. Mutuku then established his victory as he won 8-2 in the second round.
“It feels good, definitely was a great way to finish a hard tournament,” explained Mutuku when asked what it meant to him as he walked away with a second win against his rematch opponent. “I’d like to thank God first of all, I wouldn’t be here without him. That being said it was a good tournament and I’d like to thank the other competitors, my teammates and see them fight. I’d like to thank my coaches and family and everyone who’s been here supporting me. Although, we definitely have to go back to the drawing board though and fix some things before nationals.”
As this was Mutuku’s first experience at CIS he explained that he enjoyed the atmosphere and was glad to get familiar with it. He then continued to explain that he’s going to come back next year with a golden win at CIS.
With the bronze matches concluded, Brock was the first to open up the gold medal matches from fourth year Kinesiology major Brian Cowan as he took on Josh Bodnarchuk in the 57kg match.
Cowan struggled against his opponent in the first round as it ended 2-0. Cowan was then defeated 8-1 in the second round.
Cowan won gold at the OUA’s and received bronze at the CIS last year.
Second was Tyler Rowe who is a third year Physical Education major who went up against his rematch competitor in last year’s CIS championship Ahmed Shamiya from McMaster in the 72kg weight class.
Rowe was unable to keep up during the match, as he was down 4-1 in the first round and then lost the match 6-4 in the second round.
The disappointment on Rowe’s face was real when he explained, “I really wanted it this year. It’s just going to make me want it even more next year.”
Rowe placed silver in the OUA’s and silver in last years CIS.
The next Brock competitor was Matt Jagas, a third year History major who won gold at the OUA’s and did not compete in the CIS last year. His opponent was Michael Asseltine from Alberta in the 68kg weight class.
The match ended quickly for Jagas as the match was called 4-0 in the first round.
Jagas explained that despite the loss he enjoyed the tournament and that he will be coming back next year to win an individual gold and contribute to his team’s success.
Ingantius Pitt was the next Brock contender who went head-to-head against Winnipeg native Finn Higgins in the 100kg weight class.
Pitt moved up in weight class as he went from 90kg (which he won bronze in at CIS last year) to 100kg. Pitt is a second year business major who placed gold at the OUA’s.
Pitt came up short in his first time battling in the 100kg round as he lost 10-0 in the first round.
“Today exactly is not so great,” as he commented on Saturday’s match. “I didn’t have my best match. You always want to go out there and have your best match and keep that in mind but tonight that wasn’t mine. All I can do is look forward and beat [Higgins] next time.”
Two Brock competitors that faced off at the same time were Sam Jagas and Zack Falconi who both lost as they faced off against their opponents. Jagas lost 6-0 after the first round while Falconi lost 10-0 in the first round.
The 61kg weight class wrestler was Mizam Tamaradze who placed silver at the OUA’s and did not compete in the CIS last year. His opponent Jason Buckle from McMaster was an OUA rematch.
Tamaradze walked away from the first round with a win and a score of 5-2. In celebration Tamaradze landed a perfect back-flip.
“I feel great, I’m happy to have won my match because I wrestled [Buckle] who beat me at OUA’s,” explained Tamaradze about his experience at CIS. “I’d like to thank my opponent, he gave a show yesterday and today. [I’d like to thank] all of my opponents but today was my day.”
One of the bigger rounds for the Men’s team was Brock wrestler Jevon Balfour as he was wrestling for his third CIS gold medal while he is on the hunt for a 2020 Olympic wrestling position.
Balfour proved his athleticism as he ended the first round against opponent Andrew Johnson from Saskatchewan with a 10-0 victory.
Balfour commented about his victory saying that he’s happy to walk away with his third CIS win but now he needs to prepare for nationals and the future. The only difference we can expect from him next year during the CIS is that he’ll win the match a little quicker.
Overall, Coach Calder was very impressed with how his team played. He explained, “Having losses from these guys before, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But again, looking at the bigger picture we have to be super impressed on how we wrestled.”
Not only did the men walk away with a CIS National Championship win, but the women also walked away with their fifth consecutive CIS win adding to Brock’s dominant wrestling team.
Assistant Sports Editor