They were great hosts. The University of the Fraser Valley men’s wrestling team held its first-ever Canada West tournament on Sunday — dubbed the Cascades Classic — and dominated, taking seven individual medals and the aggregate title.
Currently ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) national rankings, the Cascades earned 51 points to take the tourney, with Winnipeg placing second with 43 points and Saskatchewan third with 40.
Cascade wrestlers Aso Palani (61 kg), Chanmit Phulka (100 kg) and Manheet Kalhon (130 kg) won gold, while Aman Kaler (65 kg), Devin Purewal (72 kg) and Brad Hildebrandt (90 kg) earned silver and Amrit Benning, wrestling with an injured knee, claimed bronze at 68 kg.
The tournament was hosted at the Envision Athletic Centre.
“It was time-consuming, but it was well worth it since we won,” said Raj Virdi, who co-coaches the Cascades with Arjan Bhullar, about staging the Cascades’ first home tourney.
“As a coach, it’s a great feeling, especially when your athletes wrestle really well. We lost some close matches that could have gone either way, but as a team, we wrestled very well.”
On the women’s side, the NCAA Div. 2 Simon Fraser Clan finished first with 43 points, ahead of Winnipeg (19 points) and the Alberta Pandas (18). The Cascades ended up in sixth place with three points, and Shae Corwin registered the top finish for the women’s team with a fifth-place result at 51 kg.
Palani said he and his teammates welcomed the chance to compete at home.
“It was great,” he said. “We did really well as a team, and it was good to perform in front of our fans. It was actually fun.”
Wrestling season culminates with the Canada West championships Feb. 13-14 at the University of Calgary, and the CIS championships hosted by the University of Alberta Feb. 27-28.
“I believe that we have the ability to win a championship banner, both in Canada West and CIS,” Virdi said.