Canada West Three Stars – Wrestlers enter spotlight

UFV's Brad Hildenbrandt and Calgary's Tianna Kennett named first stars

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Brad Hildenbrandt (R)

Wrestlers Brad Hildenbrandt and Tianna Kennett are the conference first stars of the week, after grappling their way to Canada West gold over the weekend at the 2019 CW Wrestling Championships in Abbotsford, B.C..

Highlights:

  • UFV Cascade Brad Hildenbrandt and Calgary Dino Tianna Kennett are the CW first stars, after dominating performances at the CW Wrestling Championships
  • Also earning stars this week were: Narcisse Ambanza (WPG – MBB), Krystin Paquette (ALB – WRES), Michael Dowhaniuk (UBC – MVB), and Maria Mongomo (UNBC – WBB).

Hildenbrandt impressed in front of a hometown crowd, as the fourth-year UFV Cascade heavyweight was dominant en route to his third straight conference title, while being named CW Wrestling Male Athlete of the Year.

On the women’s side, Kennett won a trio of matches to claim gold in the 55 kg division for the Calgary Dinos. The third-year was named the CW Wrestling Female Co-Athlete of the Year, splitting the honour with Alberta’s Krystin Paquette.

The pair now move forward as the CW nominees for the U SPORTS Athletes of the Week.

 

Championship log: Friday, Feb. 8 & Saturday, Feb. 9 – Won gold in the men’s 120 kg weight class at the Canada West Wrestling Championships, and was named the CW Wrestling Male Athlete of the Year.

In a historic week for the University of the Fraser Valley wrestling program, Brad Hildenbrandt carved out some history of his own.

UFV hosted the Canada West Wrestling Championships for the first time, and Hildenbrandt not only won his third straight conference title in the heavyweight (120 kg) division, he was voted the CW Wrestling Male Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Cascades men’s wrestler to earn that honour.

UFV’s fourth-year team captain was dominant on the mat – he won his first match via pin, and his other two by technical superiority. The Cascades men’s team finished third overall with 33 points to match the best finish in program history.

Hildenbrandt – and 10 other individual medalists for the Cascades – have earned the right to advance to the U SPORTS national championships hosted by the University of Calgary, Feb. 22-23.

 

Championship log: Friday, Feb. 8 & Saturday, Feb. 9 – Won gold in the women’s 55 kg weight class at the Canada West Wrestling Championships, and was named the CW Wrestling Female Co-Athlete of the Year.

With the national championships just around the corner, Tianna Kennett has set the bar high for herself with an impressive performance at the Canada West Championships.

On the opening day of the conference championships in Abbotsford, B.C., the Nursing student won by decision 6-4 over UFV Cascade Amber Wiebe.

The next day, Kennett won both her bout by tech fall, defeating the Alberta Pandas’ April Martinig and Alyx Paulson of the Saskatchewan Huskies.

Kennett, who won gold at 55 kilograms, added Canada West co-outstanding wrestler honours to her haul and will lead a group of six Dinos women into the U SPORTS national championships in the Dinos’ own Red Gym Feb. 22-23.

The Dinos women finished third in the team standings.

 

Game log: Thursday, Feb. 7 – 36 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 14-20 FG, 4-8 3FG, 4-4 FT in 34 minutes of 92-77 playoff win vs. Manitoba.

Narcisse Ambanza tied a career high with 36 points Thursday night in Winnipeg’s play-in win over the Manitoba Bisons, as he shot 70 per cent from the floor and 50 per cent from three.

The Toronto, Ont. product posted an .827 True Shooting Percentage in one of the most efficient games of his career. Ambanza added six assists and three rebounds in the Wesmen’s playoff win over their crosstown rivals.

Winnipeg takes on the No. 1 seed in the CW playoffs the Calgary Dinos this weekend in quarter-final action. The best-of-three series opens Friday night in Calgary.

 

Championship log: Friday, Feb. 8 & Saturday, Feb. 9 – Won gold in the women’s 59 kg weight class at the Canada West Wrestling Championships, and was named the CW Wrestling Female Co-Athlete of the Year.

Leading the Pandas to their second-straight top-two finish at the CW Wrestling Championships, fifth-year wrestler Krystin Paquette finished her conference career with one of her most dominant performances.

Paquette went undefeated in the women’s 59 kilogram weight class in Abbotsford, B.C., claiming conference gold, while also being named the CW Wrestling Female Co-Athlete of the Year.

The Murillo, Ont. product defeated Saskatchewan Huskie Emma Parker 4-2, before topping Calgary Dino Amy Bellavia 7-5 over the weekend.

Thanks to her gold medal, the Pandas were able to finish second to Saskatchewan in the team standings, which represents Alberta’s ninth-straight year placing inside the top three in Canada West women’s wrestling.

Over her five year career, Paquette now owns four Canada West medals, including gold medals in 2018 and 2019.

Paquette and the Pandas will look for more team success in two weeks, as they head down to Calgary for the 2019 U SPORTS Wrestling Championships at the University of Calgary.

 

Game log: Friday, Feb. 8 – 19 kills, 5 digs, 3 assists, 19.5 points in a 3-1 home win over Winnipeg / Saturday, Feb. 9 – 22 kills, 9 digs, 4 assists, .500 hitting percentage, 23.5 points in a 3-1 home win over Winnipeg.

UBC rookie sensation Michael Dowhaniuk just keeps on impressing, as he played a leading role in a weekend sweep over the visiting Winnipeg Wesmen.

After a 19 kill, 5 dig performance Friday night, the White Rock, B.C. product led all players on the court Saturday in kills (22), adding eight digs and topped all players with an incredible .500 hitting percentage.

Dowhaniuk is leading the T-Birds in kills (186) and total points (216), and has a very impressive .248 attacking percentage.

Winners of seven of their last eight matches, the T-Birds head to Calgary this weekend to close out the regular season with a chance to lock down the final Canada West playoff spot. UBC currently sits four points ahead of Winnipeg for eighth and a weekend split against the Dinos would be enough to secure a third straight post-season appearance.

 

Game log: Friday, Feb. 8 – 29 points, 5 rebounds, 2, assists, 2 steals in 37 minutes played in a 80-78 road playoff win over the Trinity Western Spartans.

Maria Mongomo was an offensive force on Friday, powering the UNBC Timberwolves to the first Canada West playoff win in program history, topping the TWU Spartans 80-78.

Going 10-for-16 from the field, the native of Las Palmas, Spain proved to be a matchup nightmare for the higher-seeded Spartans, displaying why she has finished top five in conference scoring for two consecutive seasons. Adding five rebounds, two steals, and two assists in 37 minutes played, Mongomo led all Canada West players in scoring over the weekend, including seven points in the final three minutes; part of a 12-2 run to win the game for the TWolves.

UNBC now faces the No. 2 seeded Calgary Dinos this weekend in a best-of-three conference quarter-final series, which opens Friday in the Stampede City.