Rankin’s time arrives
Michaela Rankin is shown in action for the Brock Wrestling Club. Brock Sports photo.
Michaela Rankin did the unexpected at this spring’s under-23 national wrestling trials.
After having not won a match since January, the Guelph native reeled off three straight victories, including defeating Jade Trolland of the Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club 6-2 in the final, to capture the under-23 wrestling trials and earn a spot at the world championships at a yet-to-be-determined location at the end of October.
“She just keeps working and keeps working and she’s close,” Brock head coach Marty Calder said. “She is a story of someone who deals with adversity and somehow keeps going.”
The third-year sports management student wrestled at 59 kilograms for the trials after wrestling at a higher weight class during the season.
“Heather Sweezey and I talked and we decided it was probably what was going to be the best for me. I was very determined that this was going to be a big win for me and it came out how I wanted it to.”
She won three matches to claim the spot for Canada and, in the process, validated the work she has put in since January.
“I have focused on adding more intention to my practices and making sure that I am learning something every day as well as learning how to perform a little bit. I have definitely had a problem with wrestling better in here in the room than I do on the mat and things came together on the day,” she said. “I had some close matches — they definitely weren’t sweeps by any means — but I was able to keep it together and tell myself that it was my match and every single point was my point even in my first match where the girl was good. I was down but I was able to come back.”
It was an amazing moment when the match ended and she was heading to the worlds.
“There were so many feelings and I just remember the last couple of seconds. I knew I was up and I couldn’t let the girl score. I had to hold the last couple of seconds. It was the feeling, the rush and looking over at my coaches who were getting a little emotional for me. It was a really big moment for me and I was looking at my dad (James) in the stands who was bawling his eyes out.
Her father has been a big part of her wrestling career.
“He doesn’t know anything about wrestling but he is such a supportive dad. He supports my dreams.”
She is looking forward to competing at the world championships.
“I am definitely nervous but I am excited about the opportunity. I really want to go out and perform how I know I can perform. I have never been at that high level and I have no idea what the competition is going to be like. I know if I wrestle how I can wrestle, I will be happy with myself and hopefully get some wins out of it.”
The victory at the trials has injected a much-needed dose of confidence into her wrestling career.
“Confidence is something that I struggle with. I struggle with the feeling that I can’t do it but this was nice to put under my belt and feel like I got a check mark. I can bring that with me into the next season.”
That season will hopefully include a great year at Brock.
“I really want to make my first OUA (Ontario University Athletics) lineup. I have yet to represent Brock at OUAs but I think I can get that done this year. Hopefully I can win OUAs and see where we go from there, maybe have some success at U SPORTS.”
Rankin had an unheralded arrival Brock.
“I came in with not a lot of experience or accolades. I started wresting in Grade 9 in high school and I didn’t really get into it until Grade 11 or 12.”
The 2022-23 season at Brock was one she would rather forget.
“I lost my wrestle-off, didn’t make the lineup and had a bit of a rough year.”
Four of the 10 weight classes at the world championships will be contested by Brock athletes. Mia Freisen, Samantha Adams and Vanessa Keefe also won their weight classes and a fifth Brock wrestler lost in the final to a wrestler she had beaten in the past.
“Our U23 development team looks really good,” Calder said. “Those are your next senior-level competitors.”
Talent and other factors have helped the under-23 athletes move forward in their careers.
“It is a mixture of hard work and deep focus,” he said.