The University of the Fraser Valley wrestling program has reloaded for the 2016-17 season, signing nine promising recruits, including a trio of signees from Abbotsford.
The Cascades men’s wrestling team will have seven new grapplers among its ranks. University of Winnipeg transfer Mitchell Berenz, a two-time Canada West champion, lends some veteran presence to the group, and he’ll be joined by six Fraser Valley high school grads: Amtoj Dhaliwal and Alex Johnson of Abbotsford; Hassib Javeed and Husayn Mohammad of Surrey; Kamil Golowko of Langley; and Marko Kolobara of Maple Ridge.
On the women’s side, Surrey’s Karla Godinez Gonzalez and Gurpreet Sengar of Abbotsford will lend their talents to the Cascades.
“We’re going to have a lot younger group,” noted Raj Virdi, who serves as co-head coach of the Cascades wrestling program alongside Arjan Bhullar. “We’re glad our team is growing, and I believe we’ll have success throughout the year. Myself and Arjan are going to work really hard with the kids, and hopefully we’ll get some good results at the Canada West and CIS championships. We’re looking forward to working with these athletes for the next four or five years and try to help them win a national title.”
Dhaliwal was a member of the Abby Traditional Titans senior boys wrestling squad which won the team title at the 2015 B.C. high school championships and followed up with a silver medal in 2016.
He’s a two-time individual silver medalist at the B.C. high school meet, and finished fourth at the cadet national championships in 2014. Dhaliwal also won gold medals in back-to-back years (2014 and 2015) at the prestigious Western Canada Age Class and SFU War on the Floor tournaments.
“Amtoj is good,” Virdi said. “His family is very serious about the sport, and actually moved from the Island to the Valley because there’s a lot more wrestling over here. He won provincials last year, and he’s a young guy who’ll wrestle for a very long time.”
“I chose to attend UFV because of the excellent coaching staff and the amount of one-on-one time they give you both inside the wrestling room and out,” Dhaliwal said. “My goals and dreams are to successfully finish my bachelor’s degree as well as become junior national champion.”
Johnson was a silver medalist this season at the Upper Fraser Valley zone championship to qualify for provincials. He also posted a fifth-place finish at the Abby Invitational, and a sixth-place result at the Alberni Invitational. He’ll study business at UFV.
“I really like the coaches and it’s close to home,” Johnson said, reflecting on his decision to sign with the Cascades. “I want to get my degree and be a CIS champion.”
Virdi noted that Johnson was recommended to him by Mouat coach Jim Mitchell, a member of Wrestling Canada’s Hall of Fame and a huge supporter of the Cascades wrestling program.
“I’ve seen him wrestle a couple times, and he’s got a lot of potential,” Virdi said of Johnson.
Sengar’s senior season with the W.J. Mouat Hawks was highlighted by a silver medal at the Miri Piri Tournament and a fourth-place finish at the Western Canada Age Class tourney.
“Gurpreet is relatively new to wrestling, but she’s very keen to learn,” Virdi said. “I think she’ll have success in university and beyond. She’s one of those girls who really loves the sport.”
“I chose UFV because it’s local – a lot of my friends go there – and has a really good wrestling team,” Sengar said. “My goal is to make it to the conference championships and win a medal, and advance to the nationals. I’m looking forward to improving in the sport.”
For more on the team, visit ufvcascades.ca.