Queen’s coach wins national trophy

Wrestling’s Terri McNutt takes gold at Senior National Championship

In her first tournament win in the women’s 51 kg class, Queen’s assistant wrestling coach Terri McNutt won gold in the Canadian Senior National Championship hosted by Wrestling Canada last weekend in Regina. McNutt won all three of her matches in the tournament, beating Jennifer Nguyen of Western and Genvieve Haley of the University of Calgary before besting Diana Ford of Brock University in a closely contested final.

The gold means McNutt will represent Canada in the upcoming 2009 Pan-American Championship in Maracaibo, Venezuela in late April.

Wrestling head coach Jamie Macari said he expected a strong result.

“We’re confident in her training. She has a natural fighting ability,” he said.

Macari said the gold was a feather in the Gaels’ wrestling program’s cap.

“I would hope that says a lot about our program,” he said. “This marked her breakthrough. It goes to show what dedication and a rising program can offer when they’re coupled together.”

At the Canadian Junior Championship, first-year Gaels wrestler Kellie Heney fell in the final rounds of competition to Ella Burke of the University of Calgary and Liz Sera of Western.

Macari said Heney’s performance was the first step towards a successful future.

“She’s come a long way,” he said. “For her to be competing on the national stage is what we intend to do with committed wrestlers.”

Although Heney came in fourth at the OUA championship in mid-February, Macari said the two results aren’t connected.

“This wasn’t CIS nationals, it was age group nationals,” he said. “She got second at the Ontario junior championship.” Because Wrestling Canada relies on university programs to act as a feeder system, though, Macari said the OUA and CIS wrestling programs allow wrestlers to grow by leaps and bounds.

With McNutt’s national gold and Heney’s provincial silver, Macari said he sees great things in the future for Gaels wrestling.

“I expect [Heney] to continue her progression at a high rate, but she’s not alone,” he said. “She was one of the higher-level people coming into the program. Though she’s made it to the nationals, there’s a room full of committed wrestlers progressing at the same level. I’m confident that time will show what we have to offer. I’m talking about more than just Terri and Kellie.”

Heney said she knew the competition would be tougher on the national stage than the provincial, but she had hoped for better results.

“I knew it would be tougher but I made sure to train a lot harder, seven days a week,” she said. “I expected to do better than I did. It was unlucky. … In tournaments, a lot of times it comes down to luck of the draw and I felt like I got a bad draw.”

Heney said her results have made her more committed than ever to push for success at the university and national level next year.

“I’ll probably train for the summer.”

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