U of C Wrestlers best in CIAU

Thanks to a series of successful meets and tournaments last weekend, the Dinos wrestling teams are on top of the national rankings.

Both the women’s and men’s teams are ranked first in the country after tearing apart the competition in Saskatoon.

On Friday, the men’s team took part in a pair of dual meets, beating the University of Saskatchewan 25-16 and the University of Manitoba 30-13. On Saturday, both the men and women wrestled in four-team Canada West tournaments. The men scored 52 points, doubling the second place U of S Huskies, while the women scored 42 points, well above the University of Alberta Pandas’ 20. Both Dinos teams captured club titles as well.

First-year Dino Mike Stitt ran all over his competition in the 54kg weight class, showing the U of A Golden Bears that they missed out while he attended their school.

"[The competition] was okay," said Stitt. "I’m in a small weight class, so I only wrestled one guy in the dual meet against Saskatoon, and another team [Manitoba] avoided the weight class. I was happy with [my performance]. I didn’t get scored against, and I beat everyone in under three minutes."

Stitt is one of many Dinos who could win a national title this year.

"I think I’ve got a pretty good shot," he stated. "I think I’ll be competitive."

Stitt was born in Calgary, but grew up in Edmonton. He spent his first years of university at the U of A, but the Bears wouldn’t let him wrestle because he was signed with a different team at the club level. Now the Bears are seeing what they missed out on.

Veteran Dino D.J. Ledrew is being counted on as a leader this season. He demonstrated that he is up to the task by going undefeated and capturing the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award.

"I was injured for most of last year," said Ledrew. "So this was my first tournament back. I think I wrestled pretty good."

As a leader should, Ledrew gives a lot of credit to his teammates.

"The whole team did pretty good," he said. "They wrestled really tough. Nobody gave up easy points.

"We should be pretty solid this year. If injuries stay away, we should be pretty good We can definitely win [the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championship]. There will be several individual champions."

Ledrew further emphasized the importance of staying healthy.

"If injuries don’t play a role, we can have five or six in the top two and another four in the top 10, if not in the top three." The women’s team won the national championship last year and is more than capable of repeating. Just ask Julie Harris.

"We’re the best women’s team in the country," she announced without hesitation. "We pretty much dominate varsity wrestling. We have four returning CI champs from last year and a lot of girls coming up."

Harris was pleased with her performance in Saskatchewan, especially leading up to the national tournament.

"I wrestled a girl in the final who’s in my weight class at CIs and beat her 9-0," Harris summed up. "It’s looking good for CIs"

One of the "girls coming up" for the Dinos is rookie Breanne Graham. The U of S tournament marked Graham’s first varsity event with the U of C.

"I thought I wrestled well," said Graham. "I wrestled up a weight class. There were a couple of good wrestlers in my class."

Nevertheless, Graham finished atop the standings.

"I’m happy with the way I wrestled," said Graham. "I was controlled and patient. I took short shots. It was good, smart wrestling."

Like Stitt, Ledrew and Harris, Graham is confident about the Dinos ability, and her own, to be national champions.

"It’s tough competition, but I think I hold my own against them," she said.

"I think we have a kick-ass team," she added. "Everyone comes from really good programs; they’re very skilled. Having good training partners like [world champion] Christine Nordhagen and [national champion] Erica Sharp that know what they’re doing is a good asset."

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