Brock Women’s Wrestling became the first team ever in CIS to win five straight National titles this past weekend. As Brock University hosted the biggest tournament in Canadian university wrestling, the women proved to be a dominate force as the Badgers had a wrestler representing Brock in seven of the eight Gold Medal matches. In the one weight group Brock didn’t reach the Gold Medal match, they fought for the Bronze Medal.
Since Women’s Wrestling has been added to the CIS in 1998, the Badgers have won six CIS Championships. Brock has hosted four CIS National Championships in the past, but Simon Fraser had won every Brock hosted CIS Championship before the Badgers finally won at home this past weekend.
“We were real hungry for this, as every team is different,” said head coach Marty Calder as he reflected on five straight championships. “The faces are always changing, but this team was such a hardworking group. When I reflect, I don’t just think about today, but the work they have done to improve and get themselves in a [position] to win nationals.”
The women won the CIS Championship with ease as they had a total of 69 team points. Calgary finished second with 39 points and Guelph was right behind with 33 points.
Here is a recap of every medal match the Brock Women competed in on Saturday:
82kg Bronze Medal: Carmella Fleurant (Brock) versus Gillian Pegg (Queens):
Fleurant, a first year wrestler for the Badgers was didn’t have an easy opponent with Pegg. The two wrestlers had met a couple weeks prior at the OUA Championships where Pegg beat Fleurant. At the CIS Championships, Fleurant put up a strong fight, but fell short of the Bronze Medal.
“I was just hoping to go do my best, but I ended up doing better than I thought,” said Fleurant, who won OUA Rookie of the year. “I didn’t care if I medaled, I just wanted to make my coaches proud. I’m going to keep training for next year. I made it this far this year, who knows how far I can make it next year.”
48kg Gold Medal: Allysa Cleaves (UNB) versus Farrantina Gatta (Brock):
After winning gold at the OUA Championship, Gatta, a second year wrestler for Brock was participating in her first CIS Championship. Gatta would give her opponent everything she had, but fell short of the gold. Gatta has only been wrestling for a total of four years and getting this far this early is quite impressive.
“I know I have a lot to work on as it is my first CIS,” said Gatta. “It was a good tournament overall.”
51kg Gold Medal: Jade Papke (Guelph) versus Kristina Mclaren (Brock):
It took a few matches before the packed Bob Davis Gymnasium crowd really got excited, as this was the first match to get everyone on their feet. Mclaren, a second year wrestler participating in her first CIS Championships took an early lead on Papke. However, as time was winding down in the match, Papke turned the momentum. Down 10-6, Papke was able to pick up two points and came very close to tying the match in the final seconds. Mclaren won gold at the OUA’s and was the first Badger to win gold on Saturday.
“It’s great as it is the biggest tournament of the year and everyone is here supporting us,” said Mclaren. “I’m not the best in the world, so I’m just getting better every day.”
55kg Gold Medal: Clara Nania (Calgary) versus Carlene Sluberski (Brock):
In her final CIS Championship, Sluberski came out strong and gave Calgary’s Nania a very tough match. Sluberski came to Brock at an older age, but has fit right in through her four years. This was Sluberski’s fourth CIS Championship in four years and she won a Gold at every single one.
“I just enjoy being part of this team,” said Sluberski. “It’s one of the best things that has happened to me. I wasn’t sure [when I came to Brock] if I still wanted to wrestle, but being part of this team really changed that.”
59kg Gold Medal: Emma Horner (Lakehead) versus Emily Schaefer (Brock):
Last year, Schaefer proved to be the most uprising wrestler on the women’s side, as in her first year she won a CIS Silver Medal at the 51kg weight level. Schaefer was also named CIS Rookie of the Year last year.
This year, Schaefer has moved up 8kg and continued to be a force. She won gold at the OUA’s and improved from her silver to win gold this year in CIS. She was in a very tight match with Horner, but Schaefer pulled out the victory.
63kg Gold Medal: Linda Morais (Concordia) versus Indira Moores (Brock):
Moores saw success last year as she won a Gold Medal, but her hard work helped her move up to the next weight level. After winning gold at the CIS at 59kg, Moores was looking to do the same at 63kg. She won gold at OUA. However, Moores was given a tough match in Morais and would only come away with a CIS Silver Medal.
67kg Gold Medal: Alison Carrow (Guelph) versus Jessica Brouillette (Brock):
Just like some of her teammates, Brouillette moved up weight classes this year after winning a Gold Medal in 63kg last year in CIS. This year her success continued at the OUA’s, where she won gold. However, she was facing defending Gold Medalist from last year’s CIS in Carrow. The Guelph wrestler wasn’t looking to hand her gold over, as she defeated Brouillette.
72kg Gold Medal: Gracelynn Doogan (Guelph) versus Olivia Di Bacco (Brock):
In one of the most anticipated matches of the day, all of Brock looked on as Di Bacco participated in her final wrestling match as a Badger. Di Bacco has been a very successful wrestler for the Badgers in her five years. Her success just never transferred over to the CIS Championships as Di Bacco has placed fourth, fifth and second in the past.
Looking to get the chip off her shoulder and walk out on top, Di Bacco wasn’t getting any help from the referee. With Doogan’s hair all over the place, Di Bacco struggled to find anyway of attacking her opponent without grabbing Doogan’s hair. This led to two cautions for Di Bacco, and a third would have led to an automatic loss. Coach Calder told Di Bacco to attack the legs of Doogan to avoid the third caution.
It would have been unfortunate to see Di Bacco lose due to cautions as she had the lead for a majority of the match. She did avoid any more trouble and finally won the Gold she needed to finish her university career on top.
“It’s super awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better ending to my varsity career,” said Di Bacco. “Winning the team title for the fifth year in a row is really special, but it’s just a cherry on top to finally get that individual gold.”
It’s part of the game and we have to learn to deal with it,” said Calder, in terms of the cautions Di Bacco received. “Whether I disagree with it or not doesn’t matter because they aren’t letting me make the calls.”
“The great thing about the Brock Wrestling program is we are never satisfied with what we have,” said Di Bacco. “To experience so much success I’m very thankful for, but there’s always room for improvement and things I wish I could have done better.”
Brock hosting the CIS Championship also continued to prove why the school may have the best crowd in the CIS. The gym was filled for a majority of Saturday’s Gold Medal matches and at times it got quite loud as the crowd cheered on their fellow Badgers.
“The energy for some of the matches in here was crazy and it’s great to see,” said Calder. “Basketball gets huge crowds here consistently, but we were able to make this place electric today with a different sport.
Some people said to me after that we should do the CIS Championships at Brock every year because it was so crazy.”
Brock, as a wrestling program, has now won 55 championships overall (33 OUA and 22 CIS) since the school won their first in 1992. Marty Calder was also named Coach of the Year on both the men and women’s side. Out of the five titles the Badger women have won over the last five years, this is the first time they did not have someone named Rookie of the Year. Also, the Badgers have yet to have a wrestler be named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Year. Either way, the dominance of the Brock Wrestling program puts them in conversation to be arguably the CIS’ best sport program.