Volume 92, Issue 79

Wednesday, February 17, 1998


Wrestlers grapple with success

Everyone guns for the stampeding Mustangs

Skating past adversity


Wrestlers grapple with success

By Paul Leeking
Gazette Writer

Ray Takahashi doesn't get splash headlines or wear outlandish costumes – he does what needs to be done to get results.

A former Canadian olympian, Takahashi has earned high respect in the sport and applied his experience as the head coach of the Mustangs. He prides his program on developing high class athletes who can motivate themselves to reach their own individual goals. Publicity is nice, he said, but the success and triumphs of his athletes are what is most important to him.

"Wrestling is a challenge," he said. "Nobody on our teams are concerned about getting people out in the stands or even winning medals. It's about attaining personal goals. It's a one on one sport and that makes losing even tougher to take."

This was evident in the impressive showing of the men and women last weekend at the Ontario University Athletics championship in Kingston hosted by Queen's University. In a highly competitive and tight Ontario division, the men improved on last year's third place showing with a hard fought silver. Takahashi was particularly impressed in light of the strong Guelph and Lakehead teams which entered the tournament. The women also continued their surge of late and earned a bronze.

As a result of their efforts, six of the 10 men and all seven women have qualified to participate in the Canadian championships in Guelph on Feb. 26.

"To knock Lakehead out of second was a huge defeat for us. Our team's performance was a result of Ray," said Mustang Keith Bannon.

Takahashi said it can be difficult to coach the same principles to wrestlers from 114 pounds up to 250 pounds. But the wide range of individuals is what keeps him coaching, he said.

Takahashi took special interest this year in team captain Scott Proctor. The coach described Proctor as "a model of dedication," for battling back from reconstructive knee surgery and still being able to manage a silver in last weekend's OUA finals along with a birth in the national championships.

Brock head coach Richard Deschateletes had nothing but high praise for the coach and his athletes. "Ray is very honest and handles himself with class. His teams are always a reflection of him."

That general sentiment is shared between the consensus of his Ontario coaching peers this year, as Takahashi was voted OUA coach of the year.

The long and rich tradition of balance between school and athletics is what attracted Takahashi to Western 20 years ago as a student and athlete. His dedication and true class is what has kept him here as coach. After wrestling at the highest level of international competition, Takahashi found himself as a candidate for coach when a vacancy opened up during his pursuit of his graduate studies, he recalled.

That dedication was rewarded again with strong performances from his athletes this weekend.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999