From Feb. 8 to 9, both the Huskies men’s and women’s wrestling teams competed in the U Sports Canada West Wrestling Championships in Abbotsford, B.C. This year, the championships were hosted by the University of Fraser Valley, a first for the school.
The Huskies had previously taken home aggregate banners for both men’s and women’s wrestling at the UFV Cascade Classic in January, with four Huskies ranking first in their individual weight classes.
The first day of the championships saw the Huskies women win 24-12 against the Alberta Pandas and the men triumph over the Golden Bears with a narrower victory of 26-24. The second win was guaranteed after Saskatchewan wrestler Kalin Langford pinned Tyler Duguid, earning the team five points in the final match.
That same day, the UFV Cascades faced down the Calgary Dinos, losing in the women’s division 10-18 but winning in the men’s 29-21 with two matches that ended in pins.
The second day saw both Huskies teams compete against the Dinos and the Cascades. While both teams capitalized on the successes of the first day, the men’s team lost their narrow lead against the Golden Bears.
Continuing on her success from the Cascade Classic, Alexandra Schell ended up taking gold in the 48 kg weight class in the championships. Other gold-medal winners on the women’s team were Maddison Haney for the 67 kg class, Berit Johnson for the 72 kg class and Kiera Prior for the 82 kg class. The Huskies ended up taking gold for the women’s division as well.
The men’s team also had a strong showing, with Logan Sloan, Hunter Lee and Liam Graham taking home gold medals in the 54 kg, 90 kg and 120 kg weight classes, respectively. The men’s team placed second overall, losing the gold to the Alberta Golden Bears by one point.
In an email to the Sheaf, Daniel Olver, head coach of the Huskies wrestling team, expresses satisfaction in the teams’ performances, saying that it was “an exciting weekend of wrestling. Both of our teams really came together and wrestled the best they have all season.”
“Liam Graham was a key leader both on and off the mat for the men’s team. Firstyear Logan Sloan showed senior-level composure in positions where he came out on top,” Olver said.
Olver also says that the women’s team in particular showed tenacity on the mat, highlighting the performances of the team.
“‘Relentless pursuit’ was the motto for the team, and we carried that mindset into every match. The women were impressive. Kiera Prior had very important matchups for herself and the team, where she dominated her opponents. Berit Johnson also stepped up and bullied her opponents around the mat,” Olver said.
In addition to the women’s gold medal, the Huskies players and coaches also took home some awards. Sloan won Male Rookie of the Year, and Olver won Women’s Coach of the Year. After a strong showing in the Canada West division, the Huskies will be travelling to Calgary next to compete in the U Sports National Championships on Feb. 22 and 23.
The U Sports Championships will see the Huskies match up against teams from within the conference and across the country. Last year, the men’s team finished ninth overall and the women’s team finished third.
Cole Chretien / Culture Editor
Photo: Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics / Supplied