McMaster wrestling secured first place victory at hometown meet
The Marauders earn 13 medals and the top spot at the McMaster invitational in a dominant start to their season
The McMaster wrestling team took on their first season meet of the year at the McMaster University invitational held on Oct. 30. Hosted at the university’s own Burridge gymnasium, the Marauders came away with multiple medals across different weight classes from both the men and women’s divisions. Overall, the team pulled away with a first place victory, scoring 85 points to edge past the University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas who managed 84 points in the contest.
Following their home opening dual meet against Alberta on Oct. 29, the Marauders entered their regular season high off of last year’s silver medal performances at the Ontario University Athletic Championships. Featuring rosters packed with youth and talent, both the men and women teams dominated the McMaster invitational with outstanding matches on the mats.
On the women’s side, athletes Ligaya Stinellis, Serena Di Benedetto and Macy Malysiak secured gold medals for the 50kg, 53kg and 56kg events respectively. A three-time competitor for Team Canada and a new recruit for the team this year, Di Benedetto won by technical fall over Taylor Mcpherson for an impressive start to the season. Stinellis and Malysiak, who landed podium placements at their individual events during last year’s championships, also delivered strong performances for the Marauders.
Individual success at the meet aside, it was very important for members, such as Malysiak, to take advantage of the regular season for the team’s growth, development and playoff preparation. They managed to do just that, making the most of the meet.
“Like our coaches say, everybody wants to win, but you sometimes want to put yourself in uncomfortable positions and situations so that you can learn from them. All these tournaments are just a learning block before the big ones,” said Malysiak.
Rounding out the other medalists, Betty Huang, Similoluwa Jayeoba and Tehani Blais captured three more silver medals for the women’s team. Vanessa Fonrose also added a bronze medal for her performance in the 76kg matches.
Leading the charge for the men’s team, Gregor McNeil took home the team’s lone gold, winning by injury default against Mahir Sabat from York University in the first place 61kg match. Francesco Fortino, Irman Kang and Jonathan Vecchio also earned three silver medals for the maroon and grey team. Finally, both Gianluca Fortino and Howard Moffatt ended with third place finishes in the 65kg and 90kg matches respectively.
Along with Di Benedetto, McNeil is also a first year recruit for the McMaster wrestling program with past experience on Team Canada. Of the 13 total medals won by the Marauders, six were won by athletes in their debut season with the wrestling program. Such achievements speak volumes to the team’s future potential.
“I honestly am just consistently excited because this is the best recruitment class that we’ve had for a long time . . . I do think that we are achieving more than we have in the past and so I think that this is going to continue on in the long run,” said Stinellis.
After the meets, both the men and women’s teams rank high atop the U Sports wrestling power rankings. On the leaderboards, the women came second place in the country while the men finished in third.
The Marauders will soon travel to Toronto, taking the mats at the Toronto Metropolitan University invitational on Nov. 13. Later in the winter, they will take on the OUA wrestling championships on Feb. 11 and the U Sports championship held from Feb. 24 to Feb. 26.
With seven more meets still on their schedule, both teams will have plenty of time to prepare for the postseason title run in 2023.