Gold medals from sibling duo Karla and Ana Godinez Gonzalez highlighted a strong showing from the University of the Fraser Valley wrestling program at the Alberta Golden Bears Invitational in Edmonton on Saturday.
Cascades sophomore Karla Godinez Gonzalez, the reigning Canada West rookie of the year, moved up a weight class from 55 kg to 59 kg and was unfazed, going undefeated. For good measure, she added an exhibition victory over Cara Nania, a former Calgary Dino who was last season’s U SPORTS national champ at 55 kg.
Ana Godinez Gonzalez, Karla’s younger sister, made her Canada West debut after a leg injury sidelined her for most of the fall semester. The rookie emerged triumphant in the 63 kg division.
“They’re two of the hardest-working wrestlers I’ve seen in a long time,” Cascades head coach Raj Virdi enthused. “They’re always ready to learn, and they ask questions – that’s why you’re seeing them have so much success early in their careers. A lot of World and Olympic champions come out of U SPORTS, and they’re having great success already.”
The Cascades had five individual medalists on the men’s side, though none ascended to the top step of the podium. The freshman contingent had an outstanding weekend – Parker McBride (54 kg) and Jacob Torres (61 kg) both won silver in their respective divisions, falling in the finals against elite-level opponents. Torres was undefeated before running into reigning U SPORTS national champ Josh Bodnarchuk of the Saskatchewan Huskies in the final, and McBride’s run ended with a loss in the gold medal match to Jordan Wong of the host Golden Bears, who won three national age-class gold medals in 2017.
Freshman Karan Dhillon (72 kg), sophomore Amtoj Dhaliwal (90 kg) and third-year Brad Hildenbrandt (120 kg) all took home bronze medals. Hildenbrandt, the U SPORTS heavyweight champ last year, made a rare mistake in his semifinal and was pinned by Ben Dyck of Team Goldrush wrestling club.
Glaysia Sparling (1-3 record), Brittany Chiu (0-2), Kamil Golowko (0-2), and Haseeb Javed (0-2) also competed on behalf of the Cascades but fell shy of the podium. UFV’s De’Andre Williams had to withdraw due to an injury suffered during a dual meet Friday evening.
Team-wise, the Cascades men finished third overall with 28 points, trailing the host Golden Bears (59) and the Saskatchewan Huskies (45). The UFV women were fourth with 21 points; the Regina Cougars (40) were first overall, followed by Saskatchewan (37) and Alberta (32).
The next big event on the horizon for UFV wrestling program is their home tourney, the Cascades Classic, which runs Jan. 28 at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.