Cascades aim for podium finishes at Canada West championships

Cascades rookie Ana Godinez Gonzalez has two gold medals at Canada West competitions this season.

University of the Fraser Valley wrestlers have medals on their minds this week as they travel to Edmonton for the Canada West championships.

The event, hosted by the University of Alberta, runs Friday (starting at 2 p.m. MT) and Saturday (starting at 9:30 a.m. MT).

Both Cascades teams are ranked nationally – the men are at No. 4 in the U SPORTS poll, while the women are No. 7 – but head coach Raj Virdi feels they’ll be hard-pressed to earn a team banner because they don’t have entrants in every weight class.

The youthful UFV squad, though, has a group of outstanding athletes who should challenge for multiple individual medals and potentially for a podium position in the team competitions as well. Canada West individual medalists all qualify for the U SPORTS national championships, Feb. 23-24 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“We have a shot at being in the top three on the men’s side, and on the women’s side, we still have some work to do,” Virdi said. “But we expect big things from all our athletes who are going.”

Eleven Cascades will be competing in the championships. On the men’s side, reigning Canada West and U SPORTS heavyweight champ Brad Hildenbrandt (120 kg) leads the way. The third-year grappler from Surrey, B.C. will be joined by sophomores Haseeb Javed (68 kg) and Kamil Golowko (100 kg), and rookies Parker McBride (54 kg), Jacob Torres (61 kg), Karan Dhillon (72 kg) and De’Andre Williams (76 kg).

On the women’s side, the Godinez Gonzalez sisters – 2017 Canada West rookie of the year Karla (51 kg) and first-year standout Ana (63 kg) – lead a Cascades contingent which also includes Glaysia Sparling (82 kg) and Brittany Chiu (59 kg).

The event will be a dual-meet format, meaning that teams compete against each other head-to-head in each weight class in a round-robin format, with individual medalists decided based on win-loss records. The Cascades’ schedule is as follows:

Jacob Torres is part of the Cascades’ outstanding crop of rookies.

FRIDAY

2 p.m. – UFV women vs. Alberta

4:30 p.m. – UFV women vs. Calgary

7 p.m. – UFV women vs. Saskatchewan

8 p.m. – UFV men vs. Regina

SATURDAY

9:30 a.m. – UFV men vs. Saskatchewan

11 a.m. – UFV men vs. Alberta

1:30 p.m. – UFV women vs. Regina

2:30 p.m. – UFV men vs. Calgary

“A lot of the rookies are more used to a tournament format, so it’ll be a little bit different for them,” Virdi noted. “Bit it all comes down to, if you win all your matches, you’re No. 1.

“It’ll be a tough tournament, but I think all our athletes really do have a chance to qualify for nationals.”

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