|Inspired individual performances turned out to be all that was needed to propel the Cougar wrestlers to their second consecutive national crown.|
Last weekend the team became the 1997-98 Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union Men's Wrestling Champions, allowing them to hang a second white banner in the U of R gym.
Along with their team winning the championship, Josef Tesar, Fazal Anwar and Lease Bertram won individual national championships in their weight classes.
"It was exciting, a rush... a tremendous experience," was all head coach Leo McGee could say about the victory.
"It was pretty fulfilling. It is a symbol of hard work," added Tesar.
At the tournament, held at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario, there were two key turning points that turned the tide for the Cougars, according to McGee.
"Joe Tesar in his match against Brock came in and kicked the living shit out of him. Joe threw him, and
|then got the pin. That was the turning point of the tournament," stated McGee.|
The wrestler from Brock was Adrian Woolley, ranked first in the 61 kg. class. Tesar also had an exciting gold medal match against Chad Pearson of Guelph. Tesar fell behind 10-2 and came back to win 15-10.
"I went all out. I could see the other guys eyes, and I knew he was cautious," said Tesar. "You can't really express how much you enjoy this."
The other turning point was Anwar's gold medal performance because he won it with an ankle injury.
"Fazal came in and dominated (Igor) Mozetic of McMaster and won 11-1. After that match the place got quiet," said McGee.
The emotion on the team grew through the rest of the tournament. This year, just like last year, the Cougars had come in as the underdogs and Brock had gone into the weekend as the heavy favorite to win it all.
"It was a pretty negative atmosphere against the U of
|R wrestlers," said heavyweight wrestler Adrian Gilmore. "As long as you had your teammates backing you, that was all that mattered."|
Strung across a stairwell at Brock University was a banner saying "Brock goes for 4th National Title."
"The matches against Brock were crucial," said Gilmore. "I think we knew we were going to win."
But after the math was done and the Cougars had the title wrapped up, disbelief fell over the campus of Brock U.
"There was a feeling of shock amongst the coaches, trainers, staff and about everyone else at Brock," stated McGee.
This championship caps off a great season for the Cougars. The national crown was a fifth straight conference title for the team this year. McGee said the win was important especially for attracting young wrestlers to the university.
"It makes kids aware that they can go here, compete, and have the opportunity to reach their full potential," said McGee..