Wrestler's silver earns her a berth

STEVE GREEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

Heather Wray and Olivia Gunnell may represent the future of women's wrestling in this area, but Katie Patroch is very much the present.

The Saunders grad, now 24, won her second straight silver medal at the senior nationals in Calgary at the end of March, losing a tough 59-kilogram final to Amanda Gerhardt of British Columbia.

Still, the result puts Patroch on the national B team, with the Canada Cup in Guelph and the Commonwealth championships in London, both in June, next on her calendar.

"I've got kind of mixed emotions," she said of her national silver medal. "That final match is one I could have won, but I didn't wrestle the way I normally do. I gave her too much respect and wrestled more at her pace than my own.

"But confidence has always been an issue for me, so to be in the final two years in a row is a big pat on the back for me because it tells me I earned the right to be there."

Now in her 10th year of wrestling, Patroch said she'll be looking to gain more international experience, but added she'll have to be more selective in her meets because she works full-time. Beijing in 2008 isn't a realistic target as 59 kilos isn't an Olympic weight class -- 55 and 63 are, so she'll likely move up but it would take time -- but London, England, in 2012 is very much on her radar.

And she's already able to look back and trace the growth in women's wrestling.

"It's pretty neat seeing how much it's changed since I started," she said. "Canada's had a lot more success recently with the women's team internationally than with the men's, and that's really pushed the young girls like Olivia and Heather."

At the Canada Cup, Patroch will have a wrestle-off for the alternate spot on the national A team, a squad London-Western coach Ray Takahashi said she's not far from making.

"She's still new on the national scene, kind of breaking in. And a lot of people know that on another day, she could have won that match, so she's right up there.

Former Western captain Terri McNutt was fourth at 51 kilos and second-year Western student Jen Nguyen, fresh off her junior national title, was fifth at 55 kilos. She's off to the August juniors in China.

As well, Western scored four bronze medals and added nine other top-six results at the Canadian university championships in Saskatoon. Making the podium on the women's side were Laura Skopelianos at 51, Jess Fitzgerald at 67 and Jessica Belchos at 72. Steve Ko was the men's medallist at 72 kilograms. The women placed third overall, the men seventh.


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