Beat goes on for Brock’s women wrestlers
Mia Friesen was taking her first Ontario University Athletics’ wrestling gold medal in stride.
“It feels better than last year’s (a loss in final),” the 20-year-old St. Catharines native said. “It was cool to win not at home and feel that tension. But it felt like any other tournament.”
She had no real close calls in the 56-kilogram division of the tournament. She won her first match 10-0 by technical superiority and then she pinned her second opponent. In the final against Macy Malysiak of McMaster, she was ahead 6-0 and took a bad shot and gave up two points. The 2022 OUA rookie of the year rebounded by pinning Malysiak.
The Governor Simcoe grad had high expectations going into the event
“I expect myself to do well and be able to perform like that.”
It was the eighth straight OUA title for the Brock women and 21st overall and Friesen agrees there’s pressure to keep the streak going.
“There is a little bit because you want to be able to perform for the team but it has been so instilled that we are a hardworking team and we are ready to grind at any moment,” the second-year psychology major said. “At the end of the day, as long as you put everything you have on the mat, there’s nothing more that you can ask for. But there’s definitely stress for continuing on the legacy because it’s cool.”
It has been a bit of an up-and-down season for Friesen. She battled injuries early in the year and was unable to wrestle in any of the fall tournaments. Her first tournament back was the Brock Open Jan. 14 and she lost to McMaster’s Amy Bellavia, the eventual OUA 59-kilogram champion. She won the Guelph Open and then lost to Bellavia at the Western Open.
Friesen wrestled 59 kilograms last season and this year she is wrestling at 56 kilograms. She is planning to wrestle 57 kilograms at senior and under-23 nationals.
“I really don’t feel any different at this weight class which is cool because I have gone from cutting no weight to cutting some weight and I feel totally fine. That is a good feeling.”
She is looking forward to her first USPORTS championship Feb. 24 and 25 at the University of Alberta.
“I am so excited to wrestle,” she said. “I love competing and this is a new weight class and I will be able to compete against girls I haven’t competed against yet. Putting it all on the line again is so nerve-wracking but at the same time it is such an adrenaline rush.”
Women’s head coach Collie was impressed with Friesen’s performance.
“Mia is coming into her own. She is very talented and she showed it on the weekend.”
Also winning god medals for Brock were: Vanessa Keefe at 77 kilograms; Shauna Kuebeck at 76 kilograms; and, Brianna Fraser at 82 kilograms.
Earning silver for Brock were: Daina Armstrong at 53 kilograms; Bronwyn MacGregor at 59 kilograms; and, Samantha Adams at 67 kilograms.
Finishing fourth for the Badgers were Kirztyn De Torres at 50 kilograms and Jessica Tillmanns at 63 kilograms.
Usually it is only OUA medal winners that advance to the USPORTS championships, but, for different reasons, both De Torre and Tillmanns have qualified for nationals.
Having a wrestler in every weight class is crucial for Brock’s chances at nationals.
“It is almost impossible to win without it so it is very important,” Collie said.
He is confident but far from overconfident heading to UPSPORTS.
“The University of Alberta has a really strong team and they have been ranked No. 1 all year. I know rankings are rankings but on paper they are the team to beat. We can be competitive with them and with a couple of upsets, we have an outside shot.”
Even if Brock isn’t ranked No. 1, it is the team everyone wants to beat.
“They are going to have that feeling anyways regardless. In the rankings, we have been ranked eighth, fifth and they moved us up to third after the OUAs. For the other institutions, it is always good to beat a Brock person. I like us going in as an underdog because we are young and hungry.”
Last year, OUA programs decided not to compete at the USPORTS championships because they feel they were behind the schools out west which has less COVID restrictions for training.
Collie is hoping Ontario wrestlers have caught up with their western counterparts.
“Ask me in two weeks,” he said, with a laugh.
Judging by how Ontario’s wrestlers looked at the last national championships at the younger age groups, Collie is confident it won’t be an issue.
“They wrestled against them prior to Christmas and destroyed them. I think we have had time to get up to speed.”
Photos courtesy of Brock University Athletics.