Brock dominates OUA wrestling championships
The only question left prior to the start of the Ontario University Athletics’ gold-medal wrestling matches Sunday wasn’t whether the Brock men’s and women’s wrestling teams would capture their 21st and 18th overall provincial titles.
All that was left to the determine was how badly the powerhouse Brock wrestling program would dominate the competition. The Badgers had already qualified all 11 men and eight women for the upcoming U Sports championships and 18 of 19 Brock wrestlers were going for OUA gold medals Sunday afternoon in their home gym. It was the most-ever finalists for Brock, but given the high standard set by Brock wrestling — the men and women are both four-time defending Canadian university champions — it wasn’t really shocking.
By the end of the gold-medal matches, Brock had recorded the most dominating OUA performance ever, winning 16 gold medals to bury the competition.
“It was great performance for us this weekend,” Brock head coach Marty Calder said. “The biggest thing for us, without divulging too much, is that it was two weeks of challenges.
“The team knows what we had to face and it made us stronger.”
Again without being specific to avoid giving the competition an injury scouting report heading into the Canadian university championships, Calder said the main challenge was overcoming injuries.
“The athletes who were facing those challenges really wrestled well this weekend and the team rallied around them as well,” he said. “It really was a tough couple of weeks.”
Calder was pleased with how his team wrestled, but he was already thinking about the next goal.
“It really is just a stepping stone,” said Calder, who was named the OUA women’s coach of the year. “Our goal is to win a national championship and whether it’s their third, second or first time, they are going and they are prepared to do well.”
Winning gold for Brock on the men’s side were Sam Jagas (57 kilograms), Lingrit Sadiku (61 kilograms), Mizam Tamaradze (65 kilograms), Matt Jagas (68 kilograms), Cruiz Manning (72 kilograms), Tyler Rowe (76 kilograms), Ty Bridgewater (82 kilograms), Clayton Pye (90 kilograms) and Richard DesChatelets (120 kilograms). Ignatius Pitt won silver for Brock at 100 kilograms and Kingston Wong took bronze at 54 kilograms.
Winning gold for Brock on the women’s side were Samantha Romano (48 kilograms), St. Catharines native Kristina McLaren (51 kilograms), Emily Schaefer (55 kilograms), Hannah Taylor (59 kilograms), Jessica Brouillette (63 kilograms), Indira Moores (67 kilograms) and Skylar Grote (72 kilograms). Garnering a silver medal at 82 kilograms was Darrion Sterling.
Romano was named the OUA rookie of the year and Taylor was named the OUA outstanding wrestler.
Taylor trailed her match to York’s Alexandria Town 10-4 with less than two minutes remaining before rallying for the victory.
“That girl she wrestled from York is a very good opponent,” Calder said. “She’s powerful and she has some moves she can devastate you with.”
Taylor was down by 10 points to Town in the final at the Ontario senior championships but came back to pin Town.
“I don’t know what it is about finals, but I never feel any urgency or that I have to go crazy and get points,” said the 19-years-old Summerside, P.E.I. native. “It was 10-4 and I was still thinking I was going to win. I don’t know what it is.”
At last year’s OUA championships, Taylor was down by two points with three seconds remaining and she pulled out the victory.
“I wasn’t nervous or anything,” she said. “I felt composed in that situation because I knew I could out-wrestle that girl.”
Taylor credits her never-say-die attitude to the battles she has every day in the Brock wrestling room.
“I go against the best people every single day. From the smallest girls in the room to the biggest girls in the room, it is always a fight,” she said. “I feel like when I get out there in a match, it is so comforting because that’s what I do in practice every single day.”
Taylor won a silver at the U Sports championships last year and is hoping to improve on that at the upcoming Canadian university championships in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Going to U Sports, I am excited to see if I can close the gap a little bit more,” she said.
She is understandably thrilled to be achieving her results while still of junior age.
“People come up and ask me if I am still a junior and that makes me excited that they are impressed with my abilities at such a young age,” she said. “I’m even more excited to grow into a really good senior wrestler.”
Calder is a big fan of Taylor.
“Hannah is a young kid but she is an unbelievable athlete,” he said. “She has a judo background and she has a really good feel for wrestling and she has instincts you don’t have to teach.”
Taylor laughed when asked about her judo background.
“People think I have a judo background but I only joined for six months to do the Canada Games for Prince Edward Island.”
When asked how she did, she said “Not good.
“I didn’t know the rules, but my coaches for judo were super cool. They asked if it was fun and I agreed it was.”
Taylor chose Brock after examining all her options.
“I knew wrestling was the most important thing about where I wanted I wanted to go so I went to all the different schools across Canada,” she said. “I checked out Brock and I competed with the team when I was in Grade 12 for one tournament. I knew after that there was no chance of going anywhere else,” she said.
In addition to getting to train with world-class athletes, Calder made an immediate impression on her.
“My first tournament with him he was yelling at me and stuff and I thought this was awesome.”
Awesome was the perfect way to describe Brock’s performance Sunday.
On the men’s side, Guelph’s Job Reinhart was named the most outstanding wrestler while McMaster’s Vidran Thanarajah was named rookie of the year. The male coach of the year was former Brock wrestler Cleo Ncube. In voting by fellow OUA coaches, Calder was obviously blamed for only winning nine of 11 divisions.
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