The walls of the Bob Davis Gymnasium at Brock University are now home to two new U Sports banners. For the seventh year in a row, the men’s and women’s wrestling teams are national champions. The men finished miles ahead of the competition with 76 points, ahead of second-place Saskatchewan with 54.
The Badgers hosted the championships for the first time since 2016. There’s always plenty of work to be done before a national championship.
“This one even more so because we’re hosting,” said head coach Marty Calder. “We got a break on the travel but as far as preparation these kids are working their butts off.”
The Badgers went into the two-day tournament as men’s and women’s OUA champions but were set to face stiff competition from the Canada West champions, the Calgary Dinos on the women’s side and the Saskatchewan Huskies on the men’s side.
Brock earned the advantage following Friday’s preliminary action, five men and five women qualified to compete for gold in their respective weight classes. The team with the second most wrestlers going for gold was the Saskatchewan Huskies with six.
Of the five men competing for gold, Ligrit Sadiku (competing in the 65 kg weight class), Cruiz Manning (competing in the 68 kg) and Clayton Pye (competing in the 100 kg) all won their matches. Garette Saunders fell to Guelph’s Kyle Robinson but ended the day with a silver medal regardless. Richard Deschatelets also earned silver.
Of the women, Julie Steffler, competing in the 59 kg weight class, Hannah Taylor, competing in the 63 kg, Skylar Grote in the 67 kg and Shauna Kuebeck in the 82 kg won their matches. Samantha Romano fell to Saskatchewan’s Alex Schell, ending with a silver.
Joseph Martin, Ty Bridgewater and Ignatious Pitt earned bronze medals in their respective weight classes.
Calder praised not only the team’s work ethic on the mat, but also academically.
“They have full schedules with training and classroom stuff so it’s an onerous task for sure but they’ve been able to sustain it for the most part,” he said.
Despite the dynasty that Marty Calder has helped the Badgers create, he treats every season as a blank slate. No matter how many championships they win, how many banners they hang, he always finds a way to improve. How soon does he start preparing for next season?
“In the matches today,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m always thinking, ‘we have to recruit somebody, this person, we have to get better here for next year.’”
With both teams winning banners, Brock’s national championship total comes to 30.
“It wasn’t about what we’d done in the past,” said Calder. “It was about the faces on the team and so it’s everything. It’s what we’ve been gearing up for all year, so job well done for our guys and mission accomplished,” said Calder.