UFV wrestlers excel at SFU tourney

UFV's Brad Hildenbrandt (left) grappled his way to a podium finish at the SFU International.

The University of the Fraser Valley wrestlers posted a series of solid results at the SFU Clansman International on Saturday in Burnaby.

Competing against elite opponents from across Canada and the northwest United States, Brad Hildenbrandt, Karla Godinez Gonzalez and Marko Kolobara were the Cascades’ top performers.

Hildenbrandt battled his way to the bronze medal in the men’s heavyweight (125 kg) division.

The Surrey product posted a 4-1 record, highlighted by a win over the University of New Brunswick’s Charles Thoms – an alternate for the Rio Olympics – in the consolation semifinals to advance to the bronze medal match. He secured the podium finish with a 10-0 win over Justin Ramgotra of the Alberta Golden Bears.

UFV rookie Godinez Gonzalez, likewise, was competing against strong opponents in the women’s 53 kg division. She managed a 2-2 record, which was impressive considering that her losses came against a pair of athletes – Cara Nania and Farah Taj – who have represented Canada internationally.

While Hildenbrandt and Godinez Gonzalez were competing in open international divisions, Kolobara was in the collegiate men’s 78 kg bracket, where he finished second to Ben Burgess of Douglas College.

“Our kids wrestled really, really well,” Cascades co-head coach Raj Virdi said. “You can see they’re progressing quickly, especially Karla and Brad. We expect a lot out of Brad, but for Karla to be competing against athletes like that is amazing, because she’s only been wrestling for a year. It’s crazy how fast she’s picked it up.”

The SFU event was the last pre-Christmas tourney for the Cascades. They resume Canada West conference action Jan. 7 at the Golden Bear Invitational in Edmonton.