'Wolves ready to battle at OUAs
The Lakehead Thunderwolves will be among a pack of hungry teams looking to knock the legendary Brock Badgers wrestling teams from their perch atop the OUA this Saturday, February 20 at the Western Mustangs-hosted conference championships at London, Ontario.
Despite having dealt with injuries to several key wrestlers for much of the 2009-10 season the Lakehead Thunderwolves wrestling teams have continued to compete with their conference’s elite under the leadership of first-year head coach Brock Curtis. A testament to their depth as a program, both the men’s and women’s programs have been consistently ranked among the CIS Top Ten by Wrestling Canada with the men currently slotted in at No. 3 nationwide, and the women No. 7.
“The men’s team has a very good chance to take this title if they wrestle well which is very exciting,” says Thunderwolves head coach Brock Curtis. “On our women’s side we have several wrestlers who have an opportunity to reach the podium while some of our wrestlers will be treating this as a learning experience. I’m really looking forward to seeing some good competition from our wrestlers.”
A talented men’s teams will look to overcome the absence of defending CIS 72 kg champion Chadd Lee (La Salle, Ontario) who is out with injury. Brother Corey has had a rollercoaster year of his own having started the season at peak form and declaring his presence as a provincial and national contender with a string of podium results. Since then, Corey has been slowed by nagging injuries that have limited his competitive schedule. He will wrestle in the 82 kg division and showed be a major factor.
Junior Gaston Tardif (Calgary) has been the most consistent men’s performer this year and is a medal favourite in the 57 kg division. Up one division among the 61 kg wrestlers is freshman Dustin Helwig (Belfountain, Ontario) who has been a big player in recent events and is looking to cap a strong year in conference competition with a podium at UWO.
Coach Curtis is expecting excellent results from several additional freshmen including Jason Bresele (Thunder Bay) and Scott Christian (Brampton, Ontario) in the 65 kg and 68 kg weight classes, respectively, with Jamie Funk (Thunder Bay) competing in the 76 kg class after starting the year with the 72 kg grapplers.
A literal big question mark for the ‘Wolves is freshman Preston Mikulasik (Thunder Bay) who will enter the fray in the 130 kg weight class. The heavyweight appeared to be on his way to serious contention early in the year before a lower body injury seemed to have derailed in season. Now rehabbed, Mikulasik will be back in action and has podium potential.
Sophomore Steve Gross (Cambridge, Ontario) and junior Brandon Gardner (Thunder Bay) bring experience and talent to the ‘Wolves and will be looking to contribute team points in the 54 kg and 90 kg divisions.
Quality versus quantity is the mantra for a Thunderwolves women’s team that includes only six athletes but has several solid competitors among them. Sophomore Aislynn Torfason (Winnipeg) has been garnering well-deserved attention across Ontario and in her native Manitoba after tearing through the competition throughout the collegiate wrestling season. A 2009 OUA bronze medalist, Torfason will compete in the 59 kg group and should contend for gold.
Notably absent from the tournament is the 2009 CIS 82 kg champion, senior Emma Brightwell (Guelph, Ontario) who had been schedule to compete in the 72 kg weight class. Katlelyn Proulx (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) will wrestle in her place while senior Nicole Plummer (Windsor, Ontario) has set her sights on knocking off opposition in the 82 kg division.
Junior Laurel Knowles (Desbarats, Ontario) has had a steep learning curve this season having faced competitors from the collegiate, national and international levels during the 2009-10 season. She will look to parlay this experience into a solid result at the OUAs in the 63 kg division. Thunder Bay freshmen Alexi Kreps and Sara Cattani will have their first taste of conference championship action in the 55 kg and 67 kg classes, respectively.
Last Edited: February 20th, 2010
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