Ross retains hometown crown

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

Much to Terri McNutt's chagrin, Andrea Ross is still the boss of the Commonwealth wrestling championships.

Four years after a controversial non-pin call helped her survive a late flurry to win gold at the Western Fair Sports Centre, the 24-year-old Londoner defended her hometown title with a 3-0 victory over her longtime rival in the 55-kilogram women's final last night at Alumni Hall.

Ross, who was wearing her University of Calgary colours, rebounded from being pinned by McNutt, a Western nursing graduate and a longtime member of the Mustangs varsity team, on Saturday in the round-robin portion of the championships.

Theirs was the lone female match of the 14 bouts in the showcase for international freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

"It can go either way with us -- we've wrestled so many times and it's always close because it's a matchup of two different styles," Ross said.

"For whatever reason, I've found a way to win in the big matches against her. The last two Commonwealth championships here in London and my first year at university when we wrestled for the bronze medal at (the Canadian championships)."

Those wins have the fiercely competitive McNutt shaking her head in frustration. The 24-year-old London-Western club stalwart stormed off after the match for some alone time.

Ross said it would've been the same for her if the result was reversed -- "minus the swearing," she added with a laugh.

"I was definitely thinking about (the controversial match in) 2003. I told Ray (coach Ray Takahashi) that if they have another Commonwealth championship in London in four years, I'm not going," McNutt quipped.

Had the tournament format not changed this time around, McNutt would've been the gold medallist for winning her first four matches and pinning Ross on Saturday.

"If they did it like last time, I would've won," she said, "but this way meant more matches and you always want more matches."

The Ross-McNutt encounter is always heart-wrenching for Takahashi, who coaches McNutt but roots for Ross, a Catholic Central grad and ran track for his wife Janet.

"Andrea is a very good wrestler -- she's driven," he said. "You always want to see her do well, but at the same time, I'm Terri's coach and I know how much she wanted this after 2003. When you have two quality wrestlers like that, there's nothing between them so it could go either way."

After scoring twice early on takedowns, Ross took a conservative approach in the second round.

McNutt ended up needing a point in the clinch to keep the match going, but Ross stymied her final attempts.

"I wanted to wrestle 0-0 with her in the second round and take my chances because I knew she was trying to throw me," Ross said. "Terri wants to go up high and I want to go for the legs and we both know that going in. But you have to be careful because you never want to leave it to a third round. Anything can happen."

The two could meet in the future with even bigger stakes on the line. Ross will wrestle at 55 kg. in the upcoming Canada Cup in Guelph and her third place finish at senior nationals earned her a berth at the Olympic trials in Toronto in December.

"That would be a nice early Christmas present to win there," she said. "Too bad it's not in London. I always love wrestling here. All my family's here to watch and I seem to get pumped up for that."

McNutt will drop back down to her usual 51 kg. class for the Canada Cup, but it's not an Olympic weight so she'll have to return to Ross's division, a group that includes reigning Olympic silver medallist Tonya Verbeek, to have a shot at Beijing next year.

"I'm going in 51 because it's a difficult tournament as it is and there's carding points (funding) on the line," McNutt said. "I have some work to do (to qualify for Olympic trials), but I've dedicated myself to this and I'm going to give it my best shot either this time around or next Olympics if my body holds out."

On the men's side, the strong Indian squad dominated the medals much like it did at the 2005 event in Capetown, South Africa.

In freestyle, India's Kripa Patel beat Pakistan's Azhar Hussain in a spirited 55-kg. bout, then celebrated with a cartwheel and backflip. India's Rajiu Tomar defeated countryman Joginder Kumar in the 120-kg. class, Sushil Kumar did the same to Amit Kumar in the 66-kg. class and Yugeshwar Dutt earned a decision over fellow Indian Singh Hardeep, who was unable to finish the first round of their 60-kg. tilt because of an injury.

In the 96-kg. class, Toronto's Korey Jarvis took a quick point from Anil Mann, but the momentum didn't last long and a masterful throw resulted in a pin and win for the Indian wrestler.

English rep Dykon Myroslav broke the Indian stranglehold by topping Narsingh Yadav in an entertaining match and Alex Brown claimed a tight 1-0 decision over fellow Torontonian Danny Brown in the 84 kg. final.


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