Mac grapplers in OUA medal hunt

The Ontario University Athletics 2011 wrestling championship take place this weekend (Feb. 11-12), at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

Weigh-ins will take place today (Friday) and all competition will take place on Saturday. The medal rounds of the championship will be webcast live on SSN Canada,, from the C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse beginning at 2 p.m.

Championship host, the Lakehead Thunderwolves men hope that home advantage will push them over the Brock Badgers to take possession of the 2011 title. Lakehead’s first-ever OUA wrestling banner was shared last year when the Thunderwolves finished with 59 points, tied for first place with the Badgers.

The Thunderwolves placed in eight of 10 events at last year’s championship and return some key wrestlers. Dustin Helwig (Toronto) and Gaston Tardif (Calgary) have hopes to defend their gold medals and bronze medalists Jason Bresele (Thunder Bay), and Brandon Gardner (Thunder Bay) return to the lineup.

The Lakehead women’s wrestling team finished third last year in overall standings. Aislynn Torfason (Winnipeg) won gold in the 59kg event and returns to defend her medal as does Nicole Plummer (Windsor) who won gold in the 82kg weight class.

Over the past two decades, the Brock Badgers have dominated OUA and the nation with their wrestling program. Brock has earned 15 straight men’s championships and 16 in the past 18 years. Last year, the Brock men placed in seven of 10 events to earn the co-title. Tim Clement (Barrie) returns to the Badgers squad after earning a silver medal in the 57kg event. Third-year Michio Clark (Ottawa) won a bronze last year in the 61kg event and looks to improve upon his results in this year’s 54kg.

The women’s squad has been dominant as well, winning three OUA crowns in a row and 10 in the past 12 years. In 2010, Brock placed in seven out of eight events, dominating the women’s competition. Jasmine Mian (Barrie) and Diana Ford (Kentville, N.S.) will look to defend their gold medals from last year’s championships. Outstanding female wrestler of the year Laura Steffler (Whitby) will also return for the Badgers in the 67kg.

The Western Mustangs women will be Brock’s biggest rival, as they finished second overall in 2010 and will return last year’s rookie of the year Larissa D’Alleva (Prince Albert.) in the 63kg division to defend her title. Brianna Barry (London) will also be back looking to repeat gold in the 55kg. The Mustang men will look to Eric Jacobson (Thorndale), the 2010 72kg bronze medalist to reach the podium this year in the 76kg weight class.

Jacob Jagas (Kitchener), the 2010 rookie of the year, returns for the Guelph Gryphons in the 76kg weight class. Jagas helped his team to a third overall finish as last year’s gold medal winner in the 72kg. Teammate Kevin Iwasa-Madge (Milton) is a contender to defend his 65kg title this year. Allison Leslie (Rockwood) is the top returner on the women’s side, after winning silver in the 67kg in 2010. This year the Gryphon women hope to improve from last year’s fourth place ranking, and medal as a team at the 2011 championship.

Ryan Blake (Stoney Creek) of the McMaster Marauders looks to defend his 2010 OUA gold in the 68 kg weight class. Teammate Kevin MacLelland (Hamilton) hopes to improve on last year’s silver in the 82kg, and has been successful already this season winning the 84kg at the Western Open on Jan. 29. On the women’s side, Sydney Duggan (Orillia) enters the 55kg weight class after winning bronze in the 51kg in 2010.

The Toronto Varsity Blues men’s roster boasts the 2010 OUA most outstanding male wrestler, Shujon Mazumder (Toronto). Mazumder won gold in the 54kg weight class in 2010 with his eye on a repeat this year. Fellow golden teammate, Dene Ringuette (Pickering), will be defending his top spot in the 76kg for Toronto. The women will be without last year’s only medalist, Melissa Biscardi; instead, Sahar King (Toronto) will compete in the 64kg and Alyssa James (Barrie) will represent the Varsity Blues in the 82kg weight class.

Queen’s hopes to move up in the men’s standings after last season’s seventh place finish. Their roster no longer included 2010 57kg bronze medalist Matt Di Staulo; instead, they will look to Joel Smith (Smith Falls), who was the top Gael at the Queen’s Open in November with a second place finish in the 54kg division. The Queen’s women are looking to medal in 2011 and improve on last year’s sixth place finish. Katherine Strang (Orangeville) will be the Gael to watch in the 63kg as she hopes to build off her bronze finish from the Guelph Open in January.

Tickets to the event are $12 for the day or a tournament pass can be purchased for $30 that includes admission to both the OUA Championship as well as the CIS nationals held at Lakehead on Feb. 25-26. Students and children are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting Sarah Lannin via email at or phone at (807) 343-8808.