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Field set for 2023 Canadian Team Trials

December 05, 2023

OTTAWA/EDMONTON – The 2023 Canadian Team Trials, Dec. 15-17, are quickly approaching. By winning the Trials, being held at the Saville Centre in Edmonton, athletes will earn the right to qualify spots for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. In total, 115 athletes are set to compete to earn one of six spots in either Women’s Wrestling, Men’s Freestyle or Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling.

The competition’s format is comprised of a pool and ladder portion. The pool tournament will take place on Dec. 15 for Women’s Wrestling and Men’s Freestyle. From the pool, one winner in each weight class will join three already ranked wrestlers, who earned their ranking with their placement at the 2023 Canadian Senior Wrestling Championships, in the ladder competition on Dec. 16. The pool winner will face the three seed with the winner advancing to face the second seed before the winner of that match challenges the reigning number one in the finals. The finals, which will take place Dec. 16 during the evening session, will be a best two out of three match scenario. All Greco-Roman pool and ladder competitions will take place on Dec. 17.

“The Canadian Team Trials is set to be a truly exciting competition,” said Tamara Medwidsky, WCL CEO. “This is the opportunity that many of the athletes have been training and working towards for years – a chance to represent Canada at the Olympic Games. With that prize on the line, we expect to see some of the closest, most hard fought and intense matches that Canadian wrestling has to offer.”

Pool Competition

The pool competition will be an interesting event on many levels. The number of competitors varies between the weight classes, but each pool will be a random draw to determine the bracket. Once the competition gets underway, it is single elimination.

On the men’s side, perhaps the most interesting pool will be at 74kg. The pool has 14 competitors scheduled to compete including several wrestlers who have represented Canada and captured medals on the international stage. That list includes: Pan-American Championships (Pan-Am) gold medalist Calgary’s Emmanuel Olapade; Pan-Am silver medalist Abbotsford, B.C.’s Jasmit Phulka; Pan-Am silver medalist Kingston, Ontario’s Connor Quinton; Pan-Am junior silver medalist Mississauga, Ontario’s Patrik Leder; and Pan-Am bronze medalist Montreal’s Sam Barmish, to name a few.

As for the women, the largest pool is at 68kg with six wrestlers vying to earn the final spot on the ladder. The group includes: Pan-Am junior gold medalist Ajax, Ontario’s Nyla Burgess; Pan-Am bronze medalist Montreal’s Amanda Savard; Pan-Am junior bronze medalist Lethbridge Alberta’s Angelina Ellis Toddington; and the current top ranked USPORTS wrestler at 68kg, Calgary’s Ellise Daynes.

Ladder Competition

The ladder side of the competition features many of the familiar names to Canadian wrestling fans. Only one athlete from the 2021 Tokyo Olympic team is back looking to defend his spot at the next Games. Surrey, B.C.’s Amar Dhesi will once again compete at 125kg. Dhesi enters the competition at the top of that ladder and will look to defend his spot against whoever makes it out.

On the women’s side one story to watch will be at 50kg. In 2015, Ottawa’s Genevieve Morrison qualified the weight class for the Games but was defeated at the Canadian Team Trials. After taking time off from the sport, Morrison returned in 2023 at the Canadian Championships and won the 50kg national title. She now goes into the 2023 Canadian Team Trials looking to avenge that loss in 2015 and secure the opportunity to qualify the weight class once again and compete at the Olympics.

The women’s 53kg weight class will be a hotly contested one as the three current wrestlers on the ladder, Fredericton, New Brunswick’s Samantha Stewart; Thorold, Ontario’s Diana Weicker; and Surrey’s Karla Godinez Gonzalez, have all won World Championships bronze medals. Matches between any combination of the three are always tight contests.

The 68kg will be another interesting one as current top seed Orillia, Ontario’s Olivia Di Bacco earned the spot in a wrestle-off this past summer over former World Champion, Montreal’s Linda Morais. Di Bacco went on to compete at this year’s World Championships and Pan-American Games, winning bronze at the latter. With Di Bacco atop the ladder and Morais the second seed, will spectators be treated to a rematch and will Di Bacco be able to defend the spot?

Finally, the 76kg weight class could be the culmination of a story years in the making. Burnaby, B.C.’s Justina Di Stasio has won everything there is to win in wrestling: World Championship gold, Pan-Am Games gold, Commonwealth Games gold and Pan-Am Championships gold, but the one thing that has eluded her has been competing at the Olympics. She will look to fend off a talented field to secure her spot so she can continue to chase her dream of competing in Paris.

Once the winners have been determined, 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. There is also one more chance for the wrestlers to qualify at the World Olympic Qualifier May 9-12 in Istanbul, Turkiye. Wrestling at the 2024 Olympics is scheduled for Aug. 5-11.

With these and more storylines all playing out during the Canadian Team Trials it will surely be a must-see event. Spectators are invited to attend and can purchase tickets 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.

Media who wish to attend to cover the event can contact Darren Matte, WCL Marketing and Communications Manager, for accreditation inquiries at: [email protected]