U SPORTS: Badgers are golden once again

Photo by David Moll
Photo by David Moll

CALGARY (U SPORTS) – The Brock Badgers’ band of wrestlers were pushed to the limit on Saturday at the University of Calgary’s Red Gym, but they once again proved to be the lords and ladies of the mat.

For the sixth consecutive season, the Badgers’ men and women swept U SPORTS championship status at the 2019 national championships. The men’s contingent finished with 83 points, well in front of Concordia’s 58 and Alberta’s 52. On the women's side, Brock accumulated 53 points, followed closely by Saskatchewan at 48 and Concordia at 37.

In the Day 2 finals, Brock competitors won a total of 15 medals, seven of them gold.

The Badgers lost seven individuals off last year’s national championship squad, so this was a bit of a retooling year for head coach Marty Calder. Yet, the outcome was – at least for the opposition – painfully similar.

“I’m extremely proud of the effort they put in on a day-to-day basis,” said Calder. “I feel like they’re chasing the dream and it’s exciting for a young kid. We’re there to help them. They represented themselves well, all of them. I tell you, it’s very difficult losing these kids. When we lose them, it’s disheartening.”

One of those Calder will lose is Jevon Balfour. Capping off an amazing varsity career, Balfour defeated McMaster’s Benjamin Zahra in the 76 kg division for his fifth individual national title.

“There’s not many people who have done five, a bunch of legends,” smiled Balfour. “The coaching staff is ridiculous. They all put so much passion and care into us. If you care as much about it as they do, you can’t help but succeed.”

The women’s competition was a see-saw affair, with the Badgers hounded all day by the Huskies. When Tina McLaren, top-ranked in the 51 kg, was disqualified in her set-to with Concordia’s Jade Dufour, the Huskies led by one. But a subsequent win in 72 kg by Darrion Sterling vaulted the Badgers up again and additional victories by Emily Schaefer in the 55 kg and Hannah Taylor at 59kg sealed the Brock crown.

“The University of Saskatchewan on the women’s side were awesome, what a battle,” praised Calder. “They showed up.”

“It’s my last year with the varsity team, so it’s nice to end on a really positive note,” grinned Schaefer, who has never not won a national team title. “I’m so proud of my girls, I love them to death.

“There are a lot of expectations and there is a lot of pressure, just depends on how you look at it. It was something we’ve done before so it gives us confidence we can do it again. We want that pressure.”

Fraser Valley’s Brad Hildenbrandt won his third national title in the 120 kg division, defeating Frederick Choquette of Concordia by a narrow 7-6 score.

“It’s always a great feeling but I’ve done this twice before,” pointed out Hildenbrandt, who was at junctures in the match slapped, elbowed in the head and poked in the eye. “It’s more about being focused yourself and being ready to go.”

In his fourth year, he will attempt to close out his eligibility with yet another win.

“That’s in the plan,” he said. “We have the 2020 Olympic trials coming up, so that will play a factor to winning next year. We’ll see what the future holds.”

Fraser Valley’s Ana Godinez Gonzalez earned female Outstanding Wrestler honours following her win at 63 kg, while Concordia’s Alex Moore took the top individual honour on the men’s side thanks to his gold medal win at 90 kg.

Logan Sloan of Saskatchewan, gold medallist at 54 kg, and Alberta’s Katie Mulkay, who fell to Godinez Gonzalez in the 63 kg final, earned U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours. Brock’s Calder and Saskatchewan’s Daniel Olver were selected by their peers as, respectively, the men’s and women’s Fox 40 Coaches of the Year.

The Student-Athlete Community Service Honours went to Shadab Rohalia of York and Drew Persson of Calgary. Rohalia, a fourth-year business student from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, joined the Lions wrestling squad this season. He has worked to develop an Enactus chapter at York, taking on projects that benefit the community through entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, financial literacy, and environmental sustainability.

Persson, a freshman from Eckville, Alta., volunteers as a coach with the Dinomites wrestling program and helps operate youth programs at Crank Gym in Calgary. She also served as a volunteer coach at the 2018 Alberta Winter Games. Outside of wrestling and sport, Drew is a volunteer at the Benalto Pro Rodeo and at the Bethany Care Centre in Sylvan Lake and Eckville, Alta.

TEAM STANDINGS

MEN

1.            Brock 83 pts

2.            Concordia 58

3.            Alberta 52

4.            Saskatchewan 41

5.            Fraser Valley 37

6.            Calgary 34

7.            McMaster 34

8.            Guelph 23

9.            Lakehead 23

10.          Western 22

11.          Queen’s 6

12.          York 6

13.          Algoma 5

14.          Toronto 1

15.          UNB 1

 

WOMEN

1.            Brock 53 pts

2.            Saskatchewan 48

3.            Concordia 37

4.            Calgary 33

5.            Alberta 29

6.            Guelph 23

7.            Lakehead 23

8.            Fraser Valley 21

9.            Western 17

10.          McMaster 7

11.          Queen’s 6

12.          York 6

13.          Algoma 4

14.          UNB 2

15.          Toronto 1

 

INDIVIDUAL MEDALISTS

 

MEN

 

54 kg

1.            Logan Sloan, Saskatchewan

2.            Garette Saunders, Brock

3.            Harris Valdes, Alberta

 

57 kg

1.            Ligrit Sadiku, Brock

2.            Jordan Wong, Alberta

3.            Parker McBride, Fraser Valley

 

61 kg

1.            Marco Palermo, Lakehead

2.            Nathen Schmidt, Alberta

3.            Joseph Martin, Brock

 

65 kg

1.            Christopher McIsaac, Brock

2.            Connor McNeice, Calgary

3.            Dajinder Singh, Concordia

 

68 kg

1.            Francis Carter, Concordia

2.            De’Andre Williams, Fraser Valley

3.            Connor Qunton, McMaster

 

72 kg

1.            Alexander Chaves, Guelph

2.            Miles Kent, Alberta

3.            Cruiz Manning, Brock

 

76 kg

1.            Jevon Balfour, Brock

2.            Benjamin Zahra, McMaster

3.            Aaron Orzsak, Concordia

 

82 kg

1.            Ty Bridgewater, Brock

2.            Samuel Barmish, Concordia

3.            Brayden Ambo, Western

 

90 kg

1.            Alex Moore, Concordia

2.            Hunter Lee, Saskatchewan

3.            Clayton Pye, Brock

 

100 kg

1.            Jordan Steen, Concordia

2.            Richard DesChatelets, Brock

3.            Jon Reinhart, Guelph

 

120 kg

1.            Brad Hildenbrandt, Fraser Valley

2.            Frederick Choquette, Concordia

3.            Calvin Daum, Brock

 

WOMEN

 

48 kg

1.            Alex Schell, Saskatchewan

2.            Natassya Lu, Guelph

3.            Megan Smith, Lakehead

 

51 kg

1.            Jade Dufour, Concordia

2.            Tina McLaren, Brock

3.            Farrah Taj, Alberta

 

55 kg

1.            Emily Schaefer, Brock

2.            Tianna Kennett, Calgary

3.            Amber Wiebe, Fraser Valley

 

59 kg

1.            Hannah Taylor, Brock

2.            Julie Steffler, Western

3.            Amy Bellavia, Calgary

 

63 kg

1.            Ana Godinez Gonzalez, Fraser Valley

2.            Katie Mulkay, Alberta

3.            Vivian Mark, Calgary

 

67 kg

1.            Amanda Savard, Concordia

2.            Haley Heffel, Alberta

3.            Skylar Grote, Brock

 

72 kg

1.            Darrion Sterling, Brock

2.            Berit Johnson, Saskatchewan

3.            Geneviève Lamarche, Concordia

 

82 kg

1.            Kiera Prior, Saskatchewan

2.            Gracelynn Doogan, Guelph

3.            Erin Geddie, Calgary

 

INDIVIDUAL HONOURS

 

Men

Outstanding Wrestler: Alex Moore, Concordia

Rookie of the Year: Logan Sloan, Saskatchewan

Fox 40 Coach of the Year: Marty Calder, Brock

Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Shadab Rohalia, York

 

Women

Outstanding Wrestler: Ana Godinez Gonzalez, Fraser Valley

Rookie of the Year: Katie Mulkay, Alberta

Fox 40 Coach of the Year: Daniel Olver, Saskatchewan

Student-Athlete Community Service Award: Drew Persson, Calgary