McLaren relishes first senior title
Tina McLaren was feeling far from confident in the weekend prior to the recent senior national wrestling championships in Montreal.
“Usually, I am having breakdowns before tournaments and the weekend before we left, I wasn’t,” the 21-year-old St. Catharines native said. “I was feeling really good and I was thinking that this isn’t usually me.”
All that changed for the Governor Simcoe grad on the Monday and Tuesday heading into tournament weekend.
“I had super bad practices and I felt it,” she said. “I knew something good was going to happen just because I feel the more I breakdown before a competition, the more I am ready.”
The fourth-year kinesiology student at Brock describes a breakdown as crying, getting angry, getting frustrated and giving up in practice.
It is the way she has always let off steam, but as she matures as a person and a wrestler, the breakdowns occur less frequently.
“I correct myself,” she said. “I have somewhat of a natural bad attitude and I have to check myself sometimes.”
McLaren’s pre-tournament omens ended up being correct as the 2016 national champion won her first-ever senior national 53-kilogram title.
“It feels good,” she said, with a laugh.
In the final, she defeated Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club’s Abby Lloyd. The Simon Fraser scholarship wrestler was coming off her first Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association championship after two silvers and a bronze.
“The girl I met in the final is super competitive,” McLaren said. “I have lost to her twice this year and before then we would go back and forth. It was nice to win.”
She was ecstatic when the ref raised her arm to signify her inaugural senior title.
“It was a pretty great feeling.”
Prior to the senior nationals, McLaren had won her third straight Ontario University Athletics and USports titles. She will now attend a wrestle-off this summer to see who represents Canada at the world championships. The wrestle-off is required because some of Canada’s top female wrestlers missed the nationals because they were attending an international competition.
A win at the wrestle-off would be nice, but McLaren won’t be devastated if she loses.
“I am still young and I am appreciating any opportunities that I get,” she said. “Either way, I am happy with my season.
“It has been really good and I couldn’t have asked to end it any better, but I am always looking forward to the next thing.”
McLaren knows overnight sensations are few and far between in wrestling.
“If you try and rush things, it doesn’t go your way. I used to always think more of the end result rather than going along with it,” she said. “You have to have some ups and downs before you become the best.
“Even when you are the best, you need some ups and downs.”
She feels her ups far outweighs the downs this season.
“I kept coming out consistently to practice and I think I finally realized that I can compete with the best,” she said. “It’s a confidence booster knowing that you can stick with the best in Canada, you’re competitive with them and you know that they fear you and they are anxious to wrestle you.
“It’s a good feeling to have in your pocket.”