Burlington, Ont. (via David DiCenzo) – Collegiate wrestlers across Ontario have waited patiently. It’s been two years since the sport’s best provincial athletes have competed to represent their schools on the podium. The endless hours of training and match preparation will finally pay off at the OUA Wrestling Championships. After a year away because of the pandemic, the 2020 OUA and U SPORTS champion Brock Badgers are ready to host the prestigious meet at the Bob Davis Gymnasium on Saturday, April 2.
2022 OUA Wrestling Championships | Fan Guide
It’s appropriate that the definitive provincial meet returns to the home of the Badgers, who have dominated the sport at the provincial level in recent decades. The Brock women have earned OUA banners in 19 of the past 23 seasons, including the last six consecutive, five of those ending in national championships. The men have won the Porter Trophy as team champions the last five straight seasons (four U SPORTS titles in that run), with an incredible total of 22 overall championships in school history.
The expectation for Brock wrestlers is to maintain the status quo. Head coach Marty Calder expects laser focus from his wrestlers. “We are extremely excited about the opportunity for this year,” says Calder. “The OUA preparatory events will culminate with a highly-competitive OUA Championships, allowing our students the opportunity for intense, quality competition.
“We will use this to restart our programs in hopes of more consistent training and a top-level U SPORTS Championship in 2023.”
A young women’s roster featuring 12 first-year students is supported by a senior core of two-time Nigerian Olympian Aminat Adeniyi, Samantha Romano, and Daina Morris-Armstrong. One of the impressive first-year athletes is local product Mia Friesen, a Psychology student who makes her OUA wrestling debut after winning conference Rookie of the Year honours on Brock’s lacrosse team in the fall.
The Badgers men are led by fifth-year star Richard DesChatlets, the defending OUA champion in the 120kg class. After dominating the invitational circuit this season, DesChatlets hopes to close his Brock career with a fourth straight individual gold medal and fifth consecutive team title.
Guelph hosted the last OUA Championships and after earning a team bronze on the men’s side and a strong fourth-place finish for the women, the plan is to better those results this time around. Four women represent the Gryphons, including Rebecca Redlich (59kg), Lauren Chew (63kg), Avery Cameron (67kg), and Amelia Frisbee (76kg). Frisbee, a biological and medical Physics major, is eager to appear in her first OUA Championships, given the event cancellation in 2021. The native of London was a two-time OFSAA champion at A.B. Lucas Secondary School, while also securing a U-19 national championship.
Guelph men have a long tradition of podium success, with multiple team championships in tow, the last coming in 2014. The Gryphons feature one of the stars of the meet in Simon Chaves, a dynamic two-sport athlete in his third year. The hometown product and criminal justice major transitioned seamlessly from the football field to the mat. Chaves will wrestle at 90kg, the class he competed in when winning an OUA bronze in his rookie year of 2018. Despite limited action and commitments to attend the recent CFL Ontario Regional Combine, Chaves won his only tournament – the Western Invitational on March 20 – without conceding a single point.
The Western Mustangs women and men also know that feeling of clutching a team banner. This year’s edition is young, with more than half of the members competing in their first OUA Championships.
“We have continued to improve as the season progressed and are looking to put it all together on Saturday and end the season on a positive note,” says head coach Scott Proctor, who was named women’s coach of the year at the last provincial meet two years ago.
The women finished second in 2020 behind Brock and aren’t far removed from a team title, which last came in 2014. Third-year medical science student Ella Doornaert leads this group to St. Catharines. The three-time academic all-Canadian has excelled in meets this season, winning gold at each of the York Open, the Ontario Winter Open, the Western Invitational, and the Western Open. Doornaert, who will be starting a Master’s of Neuroscience in September, finished fourth in her class at the 2020 OUA Championships.
The Mustang men have won 17 team championships in school history. First-year talent Gavin Eldridge is one of the athletes hoping to lead Western back to the podium. The King’s College student from St. Thomas has burst onto the OUA scene, medaling in every event he entered this season. Eldridge has been impressive, winning gold at the Ontario Winter Open, the Western Open, and the Western Invitational.
The McMaster Marauders were the last team to secure an overall championship prior to Brock’s recent run. That banner came in 2015 when the Marauder men won it all. Two years ago, they earned a silver medal, while the women placed fifth. One of the traditional strengths of the program is cohesion, which comes from the women and men training together as one unit.
“Our goal is to achieve our own version of personal greatness, regardless of what form that comes in for each individual,” says head coach Ahmed Shamiya, the men’s coach of the year at the 2020 OUA Championships. “We have extensively discussed the importance of carrying ourselves like great people of character, 24 hours a day, whether it’s on the mat or off. Greatness doesn’t happen spontaneously when you step on the mats at the OUA Championships.”
Shamiya adds that the everyday commitment to an elite athlete’s lifestyle is what will enable his wrestlers to perform at a high level. Their dedication has inspired the young coach and the team has come a long way since the start of the season schedule, creating excitement among the group. Aspirations are high on the men’s side, thanks in part to Hamilton native Francesco Fortino. The third-year commerce student, who is a perfect 10-0 in matches this year, has tasted plenty of OUA success with consecutive bronze medals in 2019 and 2020, including a U SPORTS bronze at nationals in 2020. Fortino will aim for a different colour of medal this Saturday.
Ligaya Stinellis leads the Marauder women, entering Saturday’s event with a great shot at a medal. The human behaviour student from Hamilton was injured throughout the 2019-20 season, but was dominant in 2018-19, winning both the Ryerson Open and York Open, while earning a silver medal at the OUAs.
The year 2013 was an important one for the York Lions wrestling program. The men’s team rejoined OUA competition for the first time in over 20 years, while the women made their conference debut. The entire team intends on having a memorable showing at this year’s provincial meet.
York’s women are poised to have their best results since they began OUA competition. The group is elated to have experienced athlete Alexandria Town back in the mix. Town, an education student from Scarborough, last competed in 2018, but has returned to York for teacher’s college. She has enjoyed an amazing international career and is no stranger to this championship, earning OUA silver medals in 2015 and 2018, with a bronze-medal win in 2016. Town has won medals all over the globe, including Canada’s first-ever gold at the U23 World Championships in 2018.
Brea Rodgers is another Lion with high expectations this weekend. The psychology student from Etobicoke was the OUA rookie of the year in 2020 after earning a silver medal in her first provincial championship appearance.
At the last OUA Championships in 2020, the Algoma Thunderbirds made some noise. Algoma wrestlers earned three medals overall, including a gold in the men’s 54kg class from Broderick Collison. It’s no surprise the feelings are good heading into this weekend for this hard-working, resilient unit, which has had to navigate tight COVID-19 restrictions to train.
Emily Duchesne is one of the Algoma standouts. An OUA bronze medalist in the 51kg class at the 2020 OUAs, the second-year social work major has already won four medals this season, including a gold at the Brock Open. Duchesne has been ranked fourth in U SPORTS for her weight class for most of the year.
“Emily has had an outstanding year,” says head coach Trevor Manchester. “She was a bronze medalist at the last OUA Championships two years ago and hopes to take home gold this year.”
Rookie Larissa Weston is another Thunderbird capable of making the podium. The biology student from Sault Ste Marie has won a silver and a bronze at events on the 2022 schedule, while earning a fifth-place U SPORTS ranking.
The Queen’s Gaels come to St. Catharines having focused on refining technical skills throughout the course of the season. There is a wide variety of experience on the men’s side, while Kennedy Lynch (59kg) and Kenna Winget (50kg) comprise the women’s team at this year’s OUA Championships.
Winget, a third-year Kinesiology major from Belwood, had a great debut back in 2019, placing seventh overall at the U SPORTS Championships that year en route to winning the team’s female rookie of the year award.
Third-year mechanical engineering student Sam Keary is one to watch on the Gaels’ men’s team. He narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish at the OUAs in 2019 and like Winget, was the team’s rookie of the year.
The Rams are a young and small squad, but the goal is big – get two wrestlers on the podium. There are certainly a few athletes who could reach that height, beginning with rookie Tessa Williams. The Waterloo native, an occupational and public health student, won gold in the 82kg-class at the York Open this season, and also took home silver in the Rams Open last fall.
Fellow first-year athlete Arjun Cheema is competing in the 90kg division. The business management student from Brampton won a bronze medal at this year’s Western Open.
The Toronto Varsity Blues are eager to get back to the OUA Championships after the long hiatus. The plan is to improve on the team’s 2020 results at the big meet, and there is some talent to lean on in that quest.
Third-year international relations/history student Rachel Zack made the podium at the OUAs in 2020, winning bronze in the 72kg-class. Zack went on to place fifth at nationals that year and she is hungry for a different medal this season.
The Lakehead Thunderwolves will round out the conference contingent hitting the mats on Saturday in St. Catharines.
The OUA Wrestling Championships broadcast can be seen on OUA.tv, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Gem app.