The University of the Fraser Valley wrestling program geared up for the Canada West championships by hosting their second annual home tournament, the Cascades Classic, on Sunday at the Envision Athletic Centre.
The event drew 70 wrestlers, most of them from four other Canada West wrestling programs – the Saskatchewan Huskies, Regina Cougars, Alberta Golden Bears/Pandas, and Calgary Dinos. The open tourney also drew competitors from the NCAA Div. 2 Simon Fraser Clan and the University of Washington’s Husky Wrestling Club, among others.
Cascades varsity wrestlers Pravi Dhaliwal (women’s 59 kg) and Devin Purewal (men’s 72 kg) competed in their final matches prior to the conference championships, which run Feb. 12-13 at the University of Winnipeg.
Dhaliwal, a rookie out of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary, finished third in her weight class, dropping matches to Ashley Osachuk of the Burnaby Mountain wrestling club and Saskatchewan’s Faye Tuck. Purewal, a sophomore who won a Canada West silver medal last season, was battling a nagging shoulder issue and finished fifth in his division.
Brad Hildenbrandt, competing on behalf of the UFV non-varsity wrestling club, finished fourth in the heavyweight (130 kg) division.
The Saskatchewan Huskies finished atop the team standings on both the men’s and women’s sides. The Huskies men amassed 33 points to outdistance Regina (28) and Alberta (25), while the ladies squad posted 11 points to edge Calgary and Alberta (seven points apiece).
“It was great to have the Canada West teams here, and the SFU NCAA team made the trip up, so we had good representation from all programs,” said Arjan Bhullar, who serves as co-head coach of the Cascades alongside Raj Virdi.
“We had good matches – Pravi and Devin wrestled well. There’s always things to work on, always things to build on.
“We’re really focusing on them and getting the results we want individually (at the Canada West championships),” Bhullar added. “They’ve been committed and consistent throughout the year, so we’re excited.”
Dhaliwal called the Cascades Classic “a learning experience” for her heading into the conference championships.
“The first year has definitely been a lot harder than high school wrestling – it’s a whole different game,” she said. “It’s definitely a big jump.
“But it feels good now, because I know what I need and what I need to work on to be successful.”