Cascades wrestlers Amrit Benning and Brad Hildenbrandt prepare for practice.

Cascades wrestlers Amrit Benning and Brad Hildenbrandt prepare for practice.

UFV’s men’s wrestling team No. 1 in Canada

Wrestlers from University of the Fraser Valley on top of CIS rankings

The University of the Fraser Valley’s wrestling program is in its first season of Interuniversity Sport (CIS) competition — and already it finds itself on top.

In the latest CIS poll released on Tuesday, the men’s team moved from No. 3 to No. 1 in national rankings.

It’s been a fast start for a program in its inaugural season. Two weeks ago at the Golden Bear Open in Edmonton, the crew from UVF won the men’s aggregate title with a combined total of 49 points. The next closest competitor, the University of Alberta, had 32 points.

“It feels good, but at the end of the day it’s just a ranking,” said co-coach Arjan Bhullar, a former SFU wrestler who represented Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London.

The team is now focused on winning the Canada West and CIS championships. “We’ve still got to get the job done,” he said.

Based on the early season rankings, the new UFV wrestling team has  shown the more established programs that they’re ready to compete. “We are brand-new to the game. [Some of the other programs] have 30 or 40 years history on us,” said Bhullar.

While UFV may be new to CIS competition, Abbotsford has been a hotbed for high school wrestling for years.

“We’ve got a great grassroots here in Abbotsford and the Valley,” said Bhullar, who runs the team along with Raj Virdi, his former teammate at SFU. “That’s why the university bought into having us on campus.”

Cascades wrestlers are only the second team in UFV history to be ranked No. 1 in Canada. In 2013, the women’s basketball team held the top spot in the country for two weeks.

UFV hosts its first  official Canada West wrestling event on Feb. 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For details, go www.ufvcascades.ca.