University of the Fraser Valley wrestler Brad Hildenbrandt got a taste of international wrestling last week, participating in a tournament in Russia and registering a 1-1 record.
The third-year Cascade from Surrey, B.C. was invited to the Miner’s Glory International Freestyle Wrestling Tournament in Kemerovo, Russia, and took the opportunity to gain some valuable international experience. The single-elimination event hosted by the Russian Wrestling Federation featured an outstanding field, including 10 world championship medalists.
Competing in the 125 kilogram division, Hildenbrandt won his opening match 10-2 against a Russian opponent, but dropped his second by a score of 8-4 to another Russian, the eventual bronze medalist Tsibik Maksarov.
Hildenbrandt delivered UFV’s first-ever U SPORTS gold medal earlier this year, winning the 120 kg division at the national championships in Winnipeg in February. He’s UFV’s reigning male athlete of the year across all sports.
“It was great to have some success – I went to a different tournament in Russia last year, and I lost in my first match,” Hildenbrandt noted. “I was able to show my improvement over the last year. I think that was evident at U SPORTS nationals, and I want to show that at the international level.”
Hildenbrandt’s four days in Russia were largely spent around the wrestling mat, though he did have an opportunity to tour Red Square during a 12-hour layover in Moscow on his way to Kemerovo.
“Going to this tournament benefits Brad in a big way,” Cascades wrestling coach Raj Virdi said. “We know he can win in Canada – now the next step in his wrestling career is to get onto the world stage. I think this year will be a big leap for him. We expect him to win the U SPORTS national championship again, and to get him onto the senior world circuit is a goal this year. That’s accomplished if he finishes top three at senior nationals, which he has the ability to do.”