UFV men’s wrestling team earns bronze at Canada West championship

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Chanmit Phulka won gold in the 100 kg division at the Canada West championship on Saturday.

The University of the Fraser Valley wrestling program’s first-ever trip to the Canada West championship yielded a bronze medal for the men’s team.

It wasn’t necessarily the medal colour the Cascades had been dreaming of – they came into the tournament, hosted by the University of Calgary, as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. But for a program making its Canada West debut this season, a podium finish is a strong result.

Devin Purewal claimed the silver medal in the 72 kg division.

Devin Purewal claimed the silver medal in the 72 kg division.

It was the closest Canada West men’s wrestling championship in years, and the CIS No. 4-ranked Alberta Golden Bears (45 points) edged No. 8 Saskatchewan (43) by two points. UFV was just behind at 40 points, while the Winnipeg Wesmen (39) and host Calgary Dinos (38) were right in the mix, too. All five teams came in ranked in the top 10 nationally, and when the dust settled on Saturday, just seven points separated them.

“All around, I’m proud of our team,” said Raj Virdi, who serves as Cascades co-coach with Arjan Bhullar. “There were a couple matches that we lost where we shouldn’t have. But when you’re at a championship, those things can happen. I guess today just wasn’t our day.”

The Phulka brothers, Jasmit and Chanmit, led the charge for the Cascades. Jasmit won his third Canada West individual gold medal of the season, finishing atop the 82 kg class, while older brother Chanmit turned in a gritty performance to claim the 100 kg crown. He suffered a shoulder subluxation during his match with Alberta’s Daniel Oloumi, but popped it back in himself and rallied from a 7-0 deficit to win 10-8. Virdi said he was blown away by the performance.

The Cascades also picked up four individual silver medals, courtesy Aso Palani (61 kg), Devin Purewal (72 kg), Brad Hildenbrandt (90 kg) and Manheet Kalhon (120 kg). All four will join the Phulkas at the CIS national championships in Edmonton in two weeks’ time, by virtue of their podium finishes.

Aman Kaler (65 kg) and Amrit Benning (68 kg) both finished fourth in their respective weight classes.

The UFV women’s team of Shae Corwin (51 kg), Julianna Bouwers (55 kg) and Aman Bains (59 kg) finished sixth overall with a combined total of four points. The host Dinos claimed the conference title with 44 points.

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