There is no program at Brock with a longer track record of success than wrestling. They are consistent national champions; both the men and women brought home U Sports banners last season, the sixth straight for the men and the eighth straight for the women.
It’s almost guaranteed at this point, when the Badgers show up to a competition, they’ll go home with a podium finish.
The Badgers’ annual home open was no exception. The Badgers finished first by a wide margin on both the men’s and women’s side. The men finished with 65 points — ahead of Guelph who had 29 and the women finished with 44 points ahead of River Falls.
Darrion Sterling and Shauna Keubeck had first place finishes for the women in their weight classes. Nicole French and Hannah Taylor ended their events with second place finishes.
For the men, Garette Saunders, Ligrit Sadiku, Chris McIsaac, Ty Bridgewater, Claton Pye and Calvin Daum finished first in their weight classes. Joe Martin and Jevon Balfour finished second in their classes.
One explanation for the Badgers’ success is their ability to attract strong new athletes, but head coach Marty Calder disagrees.
“Some people probably say that but a lot of teams get recruits. There’s a lot of passion in our program, a lot of desire to continue on and be successful,” said Calder.
From the wrestlers, to the coaches, to the trainers, to everyone else involved with the team, nothing short of their best is acceptable.
The Badgers have been busy since the start of the season, traveling across Ontario to compete in other opens.
“This is our opportunity … it’s nice that we don’t have to travel, we travel a lot and we’ve been busy at home. We had the Olympic trials at the beginning of December, now we’re back getting ready for U Sports which is in February and we’re hosting that as well,” said Calder.
The Badgers will be going into U Sports as reigning champs but championships are not the only thing Calder wants this program to give his athletes.
“Teach these kids how to be winners on and off the mat and have a great experience while they’re doing,” he said.
The Badgers produce athletes who go on in the sport, who have the ability to compete for Canada on the world stage, but they also produce athletes who won’t continue at an elite level. Calder, a former Olympian himself, recognizes this.
“Not everyone on our team is going to be an Olympian and not everyone is going to be a national champion but coming into our room every day and having a chance to take part in a sport like ours with so much work involved but a lot of gratification as well,” he said.
They’ll head to Guelph this weekend then to London to compete at Western the following weekend. The U Sports championships are scheduled to take place at Brock on February 21 through to the 22.