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12 wrestlers top their respective ladders at 2023 Canadian Team Trials

December 17, 2023

EDMONTON— It was a dramatic day at the Canadian Team Trials on December 16 as wrestlers battled to earn the right to be Canada’s representative at one of 12 weight classes (six in men’s freestyle, six in women’s wrestling) and attempt to qualify the weight class for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Women’s Results

The women’s 50kg weight class came down to the number one seed, Ottawa’s Genevieve Morrison, and third seed Saskatoon’s Katie Dutchak. Dutchak came into the match having won her first match of the day over Montreal’s Jade Dufour and then bested Komoka, Ontario’s Madi Parks in the second round. Morrison won a tight opening match 2-1 but Dutchak responded in the second. Dutchak scored a takedown with a little more than 30 seconds remaining and won 4-2. The third match came right down to the wire, but Morrison scored a force out in the final seconds to earn the victory 3-2.

At 53kg, the final was a much-anticipated match between top ranked Fredericton’s Samantha Stewart and Surrey, British Columbia’s Karla Godinez Gonzalez. Godinez Gonzalez, the third seed, came into the match after beating pool winner Stoney Creek, Ontario’s Serena Di Benedetto, then outlasting number two seed Thorold, Ontario’s Diana Weicker. Godinez Gonzalez picked up the opening win by a score of 4-1. She continued her solid wrestling in the second and came away with a 6-0 win to claim the weight class.

St. Catharines, Ontario’s Mia Friesen faced her teammate and top seeded Hannah Taylor, from Summerside, P.E.I. in the 57kg final. Friesen topped pool winner Calgary’s Tianna Kennett in round one, then won an exciting second match over Toronto’s Alexandria Town, the number two seed. Taylor took control of the first match and came away with a 7-1 win. Taylor went on to have an impressive second match, winning by superiority 11-0.

The women’s 62kg final was contested by number one seed, Surrey’s Ana Godinez Gonzalez and number two seed, Swift Current, Saskatchewan’s Aleah Nickel. Nickel earned her spot in the final after defeating the three seed, Calgary’s Miki Rowbottom. The first match was all Godinez Gonzalez as she took the win by fall. She finished things off with a victory by superiority 10-0 in the second match.

At 68kg, it was a rematch of a wrestle off from this past summer as top seeded Orillia, Ontario’s Olivia Di Bacco looked to hold off the second seed, Montreal’s Linda Morais. Morais entered the match after defeating Sherwood Park, Alberta’s Katie Mulkay in the previous round. It was a tight opening contest with Morais edging Di Bacco 2-1. An exciting finish in the second saw Di Bacco score a four-point takedown, in the final seconds, to win and force a third match. In the third, it came right down to the wire, but Morais was able to pull out the win 3-2.

Finally, at 76kg it was number one seed, Justina Di Stasio, from Burnaby, British Columbia, taking on number two seed, McKeller, Ontario’s Shauna Kuebeck. Kuebeck entered the match after scoring a late pin over Thorold’s Brianna Fraser in her only other match. Di Stasio got out to a good start with a win by superiority 12-0 in the first contest. She capped off a strong performance with a win by fall to secure her spot.

Men’s Results

On the men’s side, at 57kg, it was Coquitlam, British Columbia’s Darthe Capellan, the top seed, taking on St. Catharines’ Garette Saunders. Saunders was the pool winner from Friday, but after the third and second seed were unable to compete, he found himself in the finals against Capellan. The first match saw Capellan pull out a 7-2 win. In the second match, he continued his momentum and took the victory by superiority 10-0 to win the weight class.

The 65k final was a match up between North York, Ontario’s Lachlan McNeil, who entered as the top seed, and Edmonton’s Mike Asselstine. Asselstine, the third seed, scored wins earlier in the day over Thunder Bay’s Marco Palermo and Coquitlam’s Jacob Alexander Torres. McNeil took the opening contest 7-2. In the second, McNeil completed the victory with a win by superiority 10-0. After the match, Asselstine removed his boots and left them on the mat, signifying his retirement from the sport. His hometown crowd gave him a standing ovation in recognition of his career.

In the 74kg, it was top seeded Adam Thomson, from Komoka, taking on the number two seed Montreal’s Stone Lewis. Lewis fended off the third seeded Toronto’s Dillon Williams during the afternoon session, to earn his place in the final. Lewis had an impressive start in this one picking up the win in the first match 8-5. The second was an entertaining, high-scoring affair that ended with Thomson evening the match with a 10-8 win. In the third match, Lewis was able to outlast Thomson 6-2 to win.

At 86kg, it was Montreal’s Alex Moore, who came in as the top seed, taking on the number two seed, Flin Flon, Manitoba’s Hunter Lee. Lee held onto his spot with a win over Burlington, Ontario’s Ahmed Shamiya. The first match went to Moore 6-0. Moore was able to continue his form in the second and took the win 8-2.

The 97kg weight class came down to Abbotsford, British Columbia’s Nishan Randhawa, the number one ranked wrestler, and Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia’s Riley Otto, the number two ranked. Otto was victorious to secure his spot earlier in the day over Montreal’s Frederick Choquette. Randhawa took control of the contest with a 7-0 win in the first round. He followed it with another strong performance, winning the second 9-0.

Lastly, the 125kg weight class was an all-British Columbia match up between top ranked Surrey’s Amar Dhesi and three seed, Abbotsford’s Jorowar Dhinsa. Dhinsa defeated Niagara Falls, Ontario’s Richard DesChatelets, during the morning session and with an injury to the number two seed, advanced to the final against Dhesi. Dhesi earned a quick fall in the opening match and then Dhesi scored another fall in the second match to take the best of three.

Now that the winners have been crowned, they still need to qualify their respective weight classes internationally to earn their spot at the 2024 Olympics. Their next opportunity will come at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier Feb. 28- March 1 in Acapulco, Mexico.

The Canadian Team Trials wrap up tomorrow with all of the Greco-Roman competition. The first session begins at 1p.m. with the finals scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tickets are available either online or at the door at the Saville Centre. The tournament will also be streamed on Flowrestling.org. For complete tournament information, visit the tournament site.