The Canada West conference’s Annual General Meeting, held last week in Kelowna, yielded a pair of exciting developments for the University of the Fraser Valley wrestling and golf programs.
UFV was selected to host the 2019 Canada West wrestling championships, Feb. 8-9 at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre. Additionally, the conference’s members approved UFV’s motion to add golf as a Canada West sport, beginning with the 2019-20 season.
“We’re excited to host the Canada West wrestling championship for the first time,” said Steve Tuckwood, UFV’s director of athletics and campus recreation. “Having hosted championships in other sports, along with hosting an annual Canada West regular-season wrestling tournament, puts us in good position to host a successful conference championship. This will be a family-friendly event, and I’m hopeful the local wrestling community will want to be involved as fans and sponsors.
“As for golf, many Canada West institutions have strong golf programs, and we’ve been competing against them at invitationals for many years. We felt it was time for Canada West to formalize its members’ commitment to golf.”
The 2019 wrestling event will mark the first time the Cascades have hosted a Canada West championship in any sport.
The ascendant UFV wrestling program is coming off an outstanding 2017-18 season, its fourth in Canada West. Seven Cascades student-athletes won individual medals at the conference championship, and sisters Karla and Ana Godinez Gonzalez took home major awards – Karla was the CW female wrestler of the year, while Ana was the female rookie of the year.
At the U SPORTS national championships, UFV claimed four individual medals, including gold from Brad Hildenbrandt (men’s 120 kg) and Parker McBride (men’s 54 kg), and silver for Karla (women’s 55 kg) and Ana (women’s 63 kg) Godinez Gonzalez. McBride added the U SPORTS male rookie of the year award to the program’s list of accolades.
“As a fairly new program, it’s exciting to have a chance to host the Canada West championships,” Cascades head coach Raj Virdi enthused. “It’s an opportunity to showcase our athletes and our campus, and we’ll have a really strong roster next year.”
Golf, along with curling, became the first new sports approved by Canada West since 1999-2000 when women’s wrestling and rugby 15s first awarded CW titles. Details around the first Canada West Golf Championships, which will be hosted in the fall of 2019, will be determined by an ad hoc committee, in collaboration with the CW sport committee.
Membership in the new CW golf league has yet to be determined, but programs which currently compete in golf in other leagues include the UBC Thunderbirds, Victoria Vikes, UBC Okanagan Heat, MacEwan Griffins, Calgary Dinos, Lethbridge Pronghorns and Manitoba Bisons.
The Cascades have been a powerhouse in the PACWEST conference over the past decade-plus under head coach Chris Bertram. Since 2005-06, the UFV men’s and women’s teams have won a combined 11 PACWEST team titles, along with 11 team medals at the CCAA national championships, including double-gold in both 2013 and 2017.
The Cascades golfers are coming off arguably their most successful fall season to date – they swept the PACWEST team championships while claiming five of the six individual podium spots, six of eight conference all-stars, and all four CCAA All-Canadian nods. The men’s and women’s teams went on to win the CCAA national championships in decisive fashion, highlighted by individual medals from Daniel Campbell (men’s gold) and Maddie Kapchinsky (women’s silver).
The program is looking to continue its momentum later this month as they host the Canadian University/College Championship in conjunction with Golf Canada at Chilliwack Golf Club, May 29-June 1.
“I think it’s a really good step forward for our program,” said Bertram, whose teams would compete in one more PACWEST campaign in the fall of 2018 before moving to Canada West the following year. “We have a vision for our program to be the best in Canada, and moving into Canada West will help us achieve that goal. We’ve had some really good players come through the program over the years, and we’ve reached a point now where we’re having great success recruiting. I believe our program is becoming more widely known as a place to pursue a golf career, both at the university level and beyond.”