Wrestling: Hildenbrandt, Godinez Gonzalez excel at Cascades Classic
Podium performances from Brad Hildenbrandt and Karla Godinez Gonzalez highlighted the University of the Fraser Valley wrestling program’s third annual Canada West home tournament, the Cascades Classic.
At the Envision Athletic Centre on Sunday, Hildenbrandt finished atop the men’s heavyweight (130 kg) division, pinning both of his opponents – Kyle Nguyen of the Winnipeg Wesmen and Donovan Dale of the Saskatchewan Huskies. The win over Nguyen was particularly gratifying for Hildenbrandt, as the Winnipeg grappler is a former U Sports national champion (2015).
Godinez Gonzalez continued her promising rookie campaign, taking bronze in the women’s 51 kg weight class. Her lone loss came in the semifinals to SFU’s Abby Lloyd, but the Surrey product bounced back to win her next two matches on the back side of the draw to clinch third place.
“Brad wrestled extremely well – he beat a guy (Nguyen) he’s lost to numerous times in the past, and that guy was a national champion,” noted Raj Virdi, who serves as the Cascades’ co-head coach alongside Arjan Bhullar. “So it was good to see that monkey get off his back.
“And Karla . . . lost to a girl who is a national champion. It was close, but the last time she wrestled her (Lloyd), she got pinned pretty quick. This time (losing on points), you can see that her development is progressing very well.”
The event drew 135 competitors from the six Canada West teams (UFV, Alberta, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Regina and Winnipeg), NCAA Div. 2 squads Simon Fraser and Western Washington, and local club programs.
“When we get an opportunity like this (to host a tournament) it’s something special, because in our community wrestling is really popular,” Virdi noted. “Being able to have all these teams here and show off our school, it really shows that we have a solid program and we’re going to be a tough team to beat in the future.”
In other UFV action, Ashley Coupal finished fifth in the same 51 kg weight class as Godinez Gonzalez – the teammates did not cross paths in the draw – and Pravi Dhaliwal was sixth in a highly competitive women’s 59 kg division. Kamil Golowoko was second to Winnipeg’s Finn Higgins in a two-man 100 kg division, and Amtoj Dhaliwal (men’s 82 kg) and Haseeb Javed (men’s 61 kg) also posted 0-2 records in their respective weight classes.
In the team standings, the Cascades finished fifth among Canada West teams on both the men’s and the women’s sides. The team champions’ banners went to the Saskatchewan Huskies men and the Alberta Pandas women.
Sunday’s tournament was the Canada West regular-season finale – the conference championships run Feb. 10-11 in Saskatoon, followed by the U Sports national championships Feb. 24-26 in Winnipeg.