Arrr... them be fighting words
By Ian Ross
Although the Western wrestling team does not have the international fame of Hulk Hogan or Razor Ramon, its pride and dedication is quickly making a name for itself at the Canadian varsity level.
Out to prove it is among Canada's elite, Western's men's team fed off the hometown crowd during last weekend's OUAA championships and surprised everyone by out-wrassling Guelph for third place and the final invitation to the national championships in March.
With several question marks hanging over the team before the weekend and a fifth-place Ontario ranking, the team victory established national respect for the squad reinforced Monday by a swift jump to a seventh-place national ranking.
"The team did really well this weekend," fifth-year veteran Dale Dolan said. "The guys just managed to come through in the tough matches and get the job done."
Leading the way for the underdog Mustangs was Dolan himself, who placed first in the heavyweight division after defeating Brock's Leo Kilimnak with a pin. Dolan, who had lost to his Brock opponent twice this season, attributed his success to simple undying determination.
"I went over the tapes, reviewing his moves and trying to think of new ways to defeat him," he said.
Joining Dolan in Western's venture to the nationals will be second-place finishers Scott Proctor and Chris Spalding and bronze medalists Ken Spurvey and Kyle Chocorlan.
"We have a good chance of breaking top-10 in the country," head coach Ray Takahashi said, "But we will have to do our homework on the other teams and practice more individually if we hope to be successful."
This year's OUAA championships also marked the first Ontario championship for women's wrestling at Western. With seven of the eight schools bringing a handful of representatives, the women battled with just as much intensity and desire as the men, establishing respect and recognition for a sport that has spent years lobbying to be recognized at the varsity level.
"The women's competition worked really well," Takahashi said. "It is definitely a step in the right direction."
Western's female pioneers in the inaugural meet fared well against tough competition and ended the day with a gold medal by Angelina Pun and a third-place finish by Anne Guzman.
Both women will travel with the men when Western heads to Hamilton to take on the rest of the country at the CIAU championships Feb. 28.