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U of R wrestler Kirk Ackerman is disappointed with second place

Ed Kapp
Sports Writer

Going into the 2011-12 CIS season, fourth-year Cougars wrestler Kirk Ackerman hoped above all else to help his teammates claim a national-championship banner.

Just a few weeks prior to the year-end tournament, Ackerman and the Cougars men’s wrestling squad – who were the No. 1 ranked team in Canada for a good part of the season – finished in first place at the Canada West championships.

Once at the tournament in late-February, the Cougars men’s squad – who were ranked third in the nation going into the event –¬ continued to impress in Thunder Bay, the host city of the CIS championships.

Four members of the Cougars qualified for gold-medal matches – including victories by Connor Malloy and Steven Schneider.

But Malloy’s and Schneider’s victories in the final round of the tournament ultimately weren’t enough.

“We were tied with Concordia going into the second day and we had guys in big matches for big points and we ended up losing to Concordia by two points,” recounted Ackerman, 21, who went into the tournament as the No. 2-ranked 61 kilogram wrestler in Canada and won his first three matches before losing in the final match of the event.

Although the Cougars were ranked third in the nation going into the tournament – and thus surprised some by their showing – Ackerman and his squad claimed a second-place finish, emphasizing that his experience at the nationals was, for all intents and purposes, a disappointing one.

“It was just a state of disbelief, really,” Ackerman said. “We had gotten all that way again and did all that work again and fell short, again.”

“If somebody was satisfied with that, then they probably shouldn’t have been there.”

While Ackerman noted that his experience will stay with him for quite some time – “I don’t even remember speaking for a few hours after, to be honest,” he offered – he will soon have the opportunity to redeem himself on the mat.

In the coming weeks, the Balfour Collegiate graduate is to compete at the 2012 Senior National Wrestling Championships at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont.

Although Ackerman is quick to point out he isn’t looking past the upcoming competition in Ontario, he is admittedly looking forward to traveling to Orlando in late-March to try to qualify for Team Canada’s 2012 Olympic wrestling team.

For Ackerman – who has dreamt of competing at the Olympics since he first took to the mat around 15 years ago – representing Canada at the Olympic Games would be far more than just another tournament.

“It definitely gives you a tingly feeling, like being a little kid on Christmas, again,” said Ackerman, who has won more provincial and national competitions than he can remember and has represented Saskatchewan on the mat across Central and North America.

“[Qualifying for the Olympics] would mean the world to me and it would mean a lot to, probably, to more people than I know,” Ackerman added. “I know it would mean a lot to my team – I know my whole team is rooting for me – it would mean a lot to all the alumni that I grew up with, my coaches, Leo, and Danny. I’m sure [they] would be happier than I would be. And, of course, my family would be really happy.”

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