Badgers ready to host the best of OUA wrestling
HAMILTON, Ont. – Nine OUA schools will hit the mats Saturday, Feb. 16 at the OUA wrestling championships. Brock University will host the one day event in the Ian Beddis Gymnasium, with preliminary matches starting at 10 a.m. and finals getting under way at 3 p.m.
The Brock Badgers women's wrestling team enters the championship ranked No. 1 in the national polls. The perennial powerhouse has won the women's provincial championship 12 out of 15 times, and is seeking their sixth consecutive OUA banner. The Badgers enter the OUA championship ranked No. 1 in the CIS, and they look all the part of a top team.
Early this season the defending champions took the title at the Concordia Invitational with Liisa Wainman (Burlington, Ont.) finishing in second place. Wainman captured gold at the 2012 Canadian Juniors and represented Canada at the World Championships. The Badgers didn't look back from there, winning two more team titles, including the competitive McMaster Invitational against OUA competition. The Badgers have leaned on strong results from Jade Parsons (Orillia, Ont.), Diana Ford (Kentville, N.S.), Rebecca Levitt (Toronto) and Natasha Chang (Cayuga, Ont.) and will rely on each of these athletes to be key point earners at this weekend's championship.
On the men's side, the Badgers are ranked No. 3 in the country, the highest current ranking for any men's OUA wrestling team entering this weekend's tournament. Brock medaled at a number of events this season, finally finishing on top at the McMaster Invitational. The Badgers will look to returning all-stars C.J. Hudson (St. Catharines, Ont.) and Tim Clement (Barrie, Ont.) as well as talented rookie Brian Cowan (Dorchester, Ont.) to be medal contenders this weekend.
The Western Mustangs won the men's banner in 2012, and are in good shape to defend it. The 'Stangs sit at No. 4 in the national polls, thanks to strong performances from rookie up and comer Matt Jagas (Kitchener, Ont.) in the 68kg division and two-time OUA all-star Steven Takahashi (London, Ont.) in the 55kg class. Takahashi's biggest competition in the 55 may prove to be second-year teammate Ameed Lakhani (Toronto), who has medaled in a number of tournaments this season.
On the women's side, Western holds the No. 4 spot in the CIS. The Mustangs were edged out of second place by one point last season, and will be looking to upgrade their bronze medals for something shinier this weekend. The Mustangs finished in third place at their host tournament, the Western Open, with Valerie Ouellette (Campbellton, N.B.) and Andrea Wakelin (Lindsay, Ont.) capturing gold in the 48kg and 59kg weight class, respectively. Their season was highlighted by a team gold at the Greater Toronto Open in mid-November.
The McMaster Marauders men's team had to settle for silver in 2012, and have their eye on returning to the spot this weekend. 2012 Rookie of the Year Jason Buckle (Hamilton, Ont.) has continued to dominate the 61kg weight class, narrowly edging first-year teammate Ahmed Shamiya (Burlington, Ont.) at the Western Invitational. Second-year and 2011-12 all-star Chris Garneau has also medaled at several events this year, placing in third at the Western Invitational and taking home gold at the McMaster Invitational in the 65kg division.
The Marauders women's team finished fifth last season and enter this weekend's competition in the No. 9 spot on the national poll. Fourth-year Erica D'Angelo (Maple, Ont.) has had success this season in the 55kg division, finishing in second place at the Western Invitational before being narrowly edged by 2012 champion Diana Ford in the final of the Brock Invitational.
The Lakehead Thunderwolves are consistent contenders in the collegiate wrestling scene, particularly on the women's side. The T-Wolves walked away with silver last season and are ranked No. 7 in the national polls. The women have had team success this year, finishing in top spot at the Western Open and finishing in second at the Ontario Junior Championships and the Brock Open. Megan Smith (Smith Falls, Ont.) has cleaned up the 48kg division and is a favourite in the lightweight division this weekend.
The Thunderwolves men's team enters the OUA championship unranked, but boast the talents of CIS all-Canadian wrestlers Dustin Helwig (Toronto) in the 54kg weightclass and Preston Mikulasik (Thunder Bay, Ont.) in 130kg weightclass. Five of Lakehead's nine competing wrestlers finished in the top six at the Western Open earlier this month.
Rounding out the top OUA wrestling ranked teams is the Guelph Gryphons. The men's team sits at No. 6, following McMaster and Western. The Gryphons finished just shy of the podium last season, and will look to Jake Jagas (Kitchener, Ont.), John Fitzgerald (Cambridge, Ont.) and Kevin Iwasa-Madge (Milton, Ont.) to earn points in the 76kg, 130kg, and 68kg weight classes, respectively.
Guelph's women's wrestling team also finished fourth a year ago, and will look to third-year and OUA second team all-star Jade Papke (Mississauga, Ont.) for point production.
Wrestlers from nine schools will compete at the championship, including Brock, Guelph, Lakehead, McMaster, Queen's, Toronto, Waterloo, Laurentian and York. The CIS wrestling championships will be hosted by Western University from March 1-2.
Stay tuned to OUA.ca for event results.
2012-13 OUA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday, Feb. 16
10 a.m. - Preliminary matches
3 p.m. - Official opening
3:15 p.m. - Championship finals
5 p.m. - Awards, banner presentations and closing ceremonies