Masters of the mat

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Cougars men’s wrestling team win Canada West title

Autumn McDowell
Sports Writer

The University of Regina men’s wrestling team went into the Canada West Championships last weekend in Saskatoon as challengers, but left as champions.

With 38 points, the Cougars finished atop the men’s standings, winning their ninth conference championship and first since 2002. Regina’s other victories have come in 1989, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999.

Last year, the men’s team was close to victory, but ended up finishing second place at the conference championships, with four wrestlers being awarded silver medals around their necks. This year, the Cougars had high hopes of having even stronger individual performances and dreamed of standing at the top of the podium as a team.

The improvement that the team has made since last year was obvious at the championships, as the two gold medalists from 2010 retained their titles in 2011, while two silver medalists from last year were able to stand at the top of their divisions.

Gilbert Musonza (54 kilograms) and Steven Schneider (57kg), who won gold medals in 2010, were able to enjoy the sweet taste of victory once again as they were able to take home the gold in their weight classes.

Joining Musonza and Schneider at the top of the podium for the Cougars was Cory Horsburg, who became the top finisher of the 65kg division, as well as Kirk Ackerman (61kg) and Connor Malloy (76kg).

Also contributing largely to the team’s success was John Lendvoy (82kg), Benji Martin (90kg), and Jimmy Levesque (130kg), who all took home silver medals in their divisions. Gaelan Malloy (72kg), the brother of Connor, as well as Mark Ballon (68kg), were both able to secure bronze medals over the weekend, thus helping out the team and securing that all ten men’s wrestlers will advance to nationals, which take place in Calgary on Feb. 25-26.

All of the top place finishers in the men’s divisions were named first-team all-stars, while all second-place finishers were named second-team all-stars.    

Virtually every member of the Cougars men’s wrestling team was able to enjoy success over the weekend, including the head coach. Leo McGee was named the conference men’s coach of the year, a title that was extremely well deserved.

The Saskatchewan Huskies, the host team, came in second with 31 points while the Calgary Dinos and Alberta Golden Bears finished the weekend off with 22 and 17 points respectively.

On the women’s side, the Cougars finished fourth with 13 points, behind Saskatchewan (21), Alberta (24), and Calgary (28).

Trisha Elliott led the way for Regina, claiming gold in 48kg. She earned conference rookie-of-the-year honours and a berth in nationals. Also going to nationals for the Cougars is Savannah Toth (63 kg), Emily Brentnell (67 kg), and Shelby Moran (72 kg), who all finished with bronze medals at Canada West. Other women who competed for Regina at the conference meet included Laurin Holhoyi (fourth, 55kg) and Danielle Anderson (fourth, 59kg).

With nationals fast approaching, Regina has only a short period of time to prepare before they make the trip to Calgary to compete on possibly the biggest stage of their careers. The Cougars will be looking to better their third place finish from last year, while having at least a few bodies stand at the top of the podium. The four wrestlers finished in second place last year have their eyes set on gold.

There is no denying that Regina has the talent not only to have individual success at the CIS Championships, but also to pose a large threat to take home the overall team title, a feat which the Cougars have not accomplished since 1998.

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