The University of Calgary will host the CIS wrestling championship meet, where teams from across the country will gather to pit themselves against each other to prove which group can boast the toughest wrestlers in Canada this weekend. Although the competition throughout the season has been tough, both the men and women Dinos have high hopes for the upcoming championship. Coach Mitch Ostberg says both teams have been training hard all year and now, as they taper their workouts for this weekend meet, he feels all Dino competitors are ready to peak for this competition.
"[They're building] the mental skills they need, the quality of focus, the emotional control, the same skills they have been building all year to be successful," he said.
In a sport that requires just as much mental training and fortitude as physical strength, the Dinos seem to be on their way to an impressive performance.
Last year, the women's team won first overall at the CIS championship competition. With this year's lady grapplers ranked first in the entire season and with returning champions secord-year Gen Haley and fifth-year Andrea Ross and a host of other extremely strong competitors, the lady Dinos stand a good chance of bringing home yet another CIS title.
Competing for the lady Dinos in the 2007-08 CIS championship are Tessa Gallinger (48 KG), Gen Haley (51 KG), Andrea Ross (55 KG), Jazzie Barker (59 KG) and Justine Bouchard (63 KG). With only the 67 KG weight class short a Dinos competitor, this year's team has put forth quite a showing.
Bouchard, the top-ranked 63 KG lady wrestler in Canada, is an experienced athlete with close to 10 years of wrestling experience, the last four of which have been spent wrestling for the U of C. As a fourth-year student, Bouchard has competed in every national CIS competition she has attended with the University of Calgary. Confident, Bouchard, feels that she is prepared to take on all of her adversaries in this tournament.
"I know I train harder than any of those girls," she said.
Three years the senior to nearly all of her competition, Bouchard undoubtedly has the upper hand when it comes to experience.
Throughout this season, the men's Dinos wrestling team has been ranked seventh in the nation. However, with an impressive showing at the CW meet, the men's team has pulled ahead in the rankings to the fifth-place bracket. With only seven of the 10 weight classes being represented by the Dinos, the men's team is less focused on winning a team award and preparing more for winning their individual titles.
Competing for the men's Dinos in the 2007-08 CIS championship are Ryan Lannan (57 KG), Adrian Macri (61 KG), Wes Barnert (72 KG), Josh Wagner (76 KG), Alex Burk (82 KG), Rhys Clark (90 KG) and Mark Dewit (130 KG). The men's team is considered to be mostly a younger team, as only three of the athletes have competed at this level before. However, they are still expecting a good performance from themselves. Ostberg feels the same way.
"Training has paid off [and] I think our guys are ready to go," he said.
This was shown at CW by Lannan, who brought home the gold for the western conference. He is seen as a favourite on the Dinos to finish at the front and keep the gold at home.
The Dinos team captain, Barnert, is another one of the University of Calgary's hopeful for CIS gold on the men's side. Placing second at CW, Ostberg believes Barnet will have a much better showing at CIS.
"[Wes] got caught," he said. "He got beat by a guy I think he should beat and now that guy's ranked number one. He can out wrestle him. He can beat him at CIS, I know it. Wes just has to make better choices tactically during the match. I think he's going to correct that and I think he's going to beat him."
This will be Barnert's first CIS experience of his three years on the Dinos wrestling team, a big moment for any athlete. When asked how he is preparing for the meet, Barnet seemed calm.
"It's the national championship, so I've got to wrestle smart and leave it all out on the mat," he said. "I don't have any superstitions or anything like that, just focus."
With the amount of talent competing at the CIS championship meet this weekend at the University of Calgary, both the guys and gals Dino teams have a hard competition in front of them, but they have all the skill and training to come out on top.