The Brock University women and University of Alberta men hope to defend their team titles this weekend when the top varsity wrestlers in the country meet in Fredericton for the 2014 Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships.
The two-day national meet will be held at the University of New Brunswick for the first time in history. The preliminary rounds begin Friday (Feb. 28). All sessions from both days will be webcast live on www.CIS-SIC.tv.
On the women’s side, the Badgers are two-time defending champions and head into the CIS meet as the top-ranked team in the country despite their second-place finish two weeks ago at the Ontario University Athletics championships, where two points separated them and the Western Mustangs.
Western is ranked second for the weekend, with Canada West champion Alberta, Calgary and Concordia rounding out the top five.
Brock, Western and Alberta will all be represented in six of eight weight classes in Fredericton, while Calgary leads the way with wrestlers in seven divisions.
The top-seeded Badgers can count on two individual gold medallists from last year’s national meet. Jade Parsons, a former CIS female rookie of the year with Regina (2009), has captured the 48-kilogram title each of the past two seasons. Teammate Carlene Sluberski earned top-freshman honours in 2013 after she was crowned at 55 kg but won’t defend that title this week as she is down one weight category this season (51 kg).
At 48 kg, Parsons will battle, among others, Western’s Madison Parks, who won CIS gold at 51 kg as a rookie in 2012 while competing for Guelph. Parsons beat Parks in the OUA final on Feb. 15.
The only other former CIS gold medallist in the women’s competition is Samantha Stewart from host UNB. The Varsity Reds standout was selected CIS female wrestler of the year in 2013 after she prevailed at 59 kg for the second time in three campaigns.
On the men’s side, Brock also comes in as the top seed despite a second-place finish behind Guelph at the OUA meet (78-75). Guelph is ranked third behind UNB, while defending champ Alberta comes in at No. 4 even after winning the Canada West championship two weeks ago.
The Badgers hope to claim a first CIS banner since the end of their magical 10-year run from 1999 to 2008, while the Golden Bears hope to successfully defend a title they won for the first time in 40 years last winter.
Looking for their first-ever CIS banner, the Varsity Reds will be out in full force in their home gym with competitors in all 10 weight classes. Brock follows with eight athletes, compared to seven apiece for Alberta and Guelph.
Brock is led by two 2013 CIS champions in Jevon Balfour (68 kg) and Matrixx Ferreira, who moved up from 76 kg to 82 kg this season.
The only other returning champ from a year ago is Concordia’s Jordan Steen (90 kg), who also took home top-rookie honours last winter.
UNB has high hopes for two standouts making a return to university competition this year. Vince Cormier (61 kg) is a three-time CIS champion, twice at 57 kg (2008, 2009) and once at 61 kg, in 2011, when he merited male-MVP honours. Shawn Daye-Finley (76 kg) won gold at 68 kg three years ago.
Third-ranked Guelph also has a former CIS titlist on its roster in Jake Jagas (76 kg), crowned at 72 kg in 2012.
While they don’t figure to be a factor in the team standings, the Lakehead Thunderwolves are represented by a former CIS MVP in Preston Mikulasik, who triumphed at 120 kg two seasons ago.
PAST CIS TEAM CHAMPIONS
Women (inaugural women’s championship in 1999)
2010 Simon Fraser
2008 Simon Fraser
2006 Simon Fraser
2005 Simon Fraser
2004 Simon Fraser
2003 Simon Fraser
Men (last 20 years)
2010 Simon Fraser
2009 Simon Fraser
1999 to 2008 Brock (10 straight titles)
PAST CIS WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR (last 10 years)
2013 Samantha Stewart, UNB
2012 Emma Brightwell, Lakehead
2011 Gen Haley, Calgary
2010 Gen Haley, Calgary
2009 Heidi Erdle, Calgary
2008 Miranda Dick, Simon Fraser
2007 Hana Askren, Concordia
2006 Emily Richardson, Simon Fraser
2005 Ellen Macro, McMaster
2004 Martine Dugrenier, Concordia
2013 David Tremblay, Concordia
2012 Preston Mikulasik, Lakehead
2011 Vince Cormier, UNB
2010 Shujon Mazumber, Toronto
2009 David Tremblay, Concordia
2008 Dustyn Fisher, Simon Fraser
2007 Jamie Macari, Brock
2006 Sheldon Francis, McMaster
2005 Ryan Weicker, Brock
2004 Adam Fera, Brock