Not only has the University of Winnipeg added two new wrestling teams to its athletics roster, but it will also host Olympic wrestling trials in December.
The university’s athletics department added men’s and women’s wrestling teams to the Wesmen program this fall.
The teams are members of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league during the 2011-2012 season and will be compete against other CIS teams in the Canada West region (CanWest), similar to the Wesmen basketball and volleyball teams.
Rapid expansion of the athletic program has added seven new teams within two years, creating a lack of practice space for the teams.
The soccer teams and the baseball team are practicing off-campus; the basketball and volleyball teams don’t have an open gym outside of practice to work on individual skills; and the wrestling teams are practicing in the basement of the Bulman Student Centre.
While some teams have expressed frustration, wrestling coach Adrian Bruce says it’s working out just fine for his program.
“It’s working out really well,” he said. “The (University of Winnipeg Students’ Association) has been great to work with.”
Eighteen-year-old Jessica Brenton, who was a U.S. National Champion last year, agrees with her coach. They are able to practice three times, and train an additional three times every week.
“Rolling out mats and putting them away everyday kind of sucks,” she said. “But other than that it’s good.”
Bruce approached Brenton at the U.S. wrestling championships last year. After making the move to Winnipeg from Casper, Wyoming, Brenton is excited to be a part of the new Wesmen program.
“Things are going great,” she said. “The workouts are really tough but I like pushing myself. It’s going to be fun.”
Not all athletes who practice with the teams are Wesmen athletes, but those who are have the potential to be bumped up to the varsity level, Bruce said.
Currently, the club has 20 athletes, only four of whom are women. The men and women practice and train together, and will be traveling to tournaments across North America together over the next few months.
They are looking forward to an upcoming tournament in Arizona at the end of October, and then the Olympic trials in December, which will take place in the Duckworth Centre from Dec. 15 to Dec. 18.
Bruce said there will be Wesmen athletes competing.
For now, he and the athletes are focusing on their upcoming season, and looking forward to getting started next month, he said.
“It’s a very exciting time at the University of Winnipeg,” Bruce said. “We’re very fortunate and grateful to be a part of the expanding athletic programs.”
Associate athletic director Tom Nicholson is also pleased with the addition of the wrestling program.
He said having them practice in the Bulman Centre has increased interaction between the UWSA and the Duckworth Centre.
“It’s helping to build a stronger relationship between the kinesiology department, Wesmen athletics and the UWSA,” he said.
Published in Volume 66, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 5, 2011)