When the Dinos mens’ wrestling team came home last week to take on Canada West rival and reigning champions, the University of Regina Cougars, they had to settle for another luke-warm tie. The 20-20 team score was a replay of their finish with the University of Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton the week before. However, the pair of standoffs betrays the potential they have going into the Canada West and Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships.
The absence of CIAU champion Andy Hutchinson left one space in the University of Calgary line up. Hutchinson will return next Monday from Europe, where he is attempting to qualify for the Sydney Olympics. Both Hutchinson and Dino assistant coach Leigh Vierling are members of the Canadian national Greco-Roman wrestling team.
Another important class was left open against Regina by Mike Stitt.
Stitt, who won by superiority against Kent Lee of the Golden Bears the weekend before, sustained a concussion and was not able to compete.
"[We] thought it was best for him to sit out for the weekend," said head coach Mitch Ostberg but adds that he is recovering quickly and will be ready for the Canada West tournament.
A number of athletes shone in the dual meets, once again proving that the Dinos will be strong competition for both the CW and CIAU title.
"Brad Neve has shown himself to be very prepared," stated Ostberg.
Neve dominated his Edmontonian competition in the 90kg weight class with a 10-0 superiority win but suffered another loss to Regina’s Chris Cox. Cox remains Neve’s major rival in CW but the 5-4 decision promises a close competition for the title.
Ryan Murray (68kg), David Kooperberg (82kg) and Hakin Kadir (82kg) also fought to wins in Edmonton along with Stitt and Neve.
In Calgary, Joe Loucks (61kg) and Paul McConnell (90kg) gave the home team victories but fifth year veteran Ryan Murray gave the best show by pinning Jordan Astrophe of Regina.
"Ryan is having a career season," says Ostberg. "He is on his game which makes him very competitive. The way he is wrestling he should win Canada West and medal at CI’s."
"Things are just coming together," says Murray. "The team is really clicking together. It is just snowballing to Canada West and CIs."
Murray attributes his success this year to the experience he has gained throughout university.
"Being in my last year things are still coming together."
No more tournaments remain before the CW championships which will take place Feb. 11-12 at the U of C. This will give the Dinos a chance to rest and work on the last of their preparation.
"We are going to work on each individual and each of their individual strengths and weaknesses because this is an individual sport," says Ostberg. "And of course we are going to train very hard."