Wrestlers finish in second place at Western Open

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's wrestling

Joyce Wang

'NO WAY MAN, PAPER ALWAYS BEATS ROCK.' Western's wrestlers hosted competition from across the country and the US at the Western Open this past weekend.

With Ontario University Athletics championships just around the corner, Western’s wrestling teams had a chance to fine-tune their games against teams from Ontario and the U.S. at the Western Open this past weekend.

While Brock, Queen’s and Lakehead universities were unable to attend due to inclement weather, the Open still featured powerhouse teams from McMaster and Cumberland universities.

Overall, both the women’s and men’s teams finished second in their respective divisions.

On the women’s side, wrestlers Jennifer Nguyen, Lesley McCallum, Gill McCallum and Katrina Huszarik all took home silver medals. The men’s team finished with five medals, with Austin Van Horne and Robert Grant taking home silver.

Although nearly 60 wrestlers could not participate due to the weather, Nguyen said the team still had some difficult matches.

“Wrestling in a tournament is completely different from wrestling in practice, and I think it was important for us to go and get some last tough matches in before competing in [OUA championships] in two weeks,” she said.

“Our team performed very well and I think it was definitely advantageous for us to get some matches in with ... out-of-province teams. We can use it as a learning experience and take the next two weeks to make any improvements and adjustments on our wrestling.”

Head coach Ray Takahashi said the open gave the women’s team a chance to play against some elite competition.

“At the Western Open we wanted our women to get matches, so we’re fortunate that three US teams participated,” he said.

“This gave the tournament an international flavour. The women’s competition was outstanding since it’s nice to compete ... outside the conference. The men’s division was smaller, but good, as almost all our team members had good competitive matches.”

While the team performed well collectively, Nguyen said teammates Huszarik and McCallum stood out over the weekend with their silver medal performances.

“Before coming to Western, Katrina had very little experience with wrestling, but within the last four years, she has really proven that hard work pays off and I think a lot of people on the team really respect her for that,” she said.

“Over the weekend Gill was matched up with Martine Dugrenier, a three-time world silver medalist and current member of the Canadian Olympic team. I think Gill wrestled very well and gave Martine a very good go.”

The open also gave the coaching staff a chance to appraise its own talent as some team members squared off against one another, Takahashi said.

“We had some team members face each other, which gave the coaching staff an idea of how certain individuals have progressed and also allows us to gauge who may comprise our final OUA team.”

With expectations high and championships less than two weeks away, Nguyen said the team has to stay focused on its fundamentals to be successful.

“This is the last stretch and we just want to perfect what we know,” she said. “If we keep drilling our bread and butter moves, it will come naturally in competition and that’s what we want. I think it’s important for us to stay in shape, stay healthy, and just have fun.”

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