Patroch makes national team

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

For a while yesterday, it appeared the only Danish wrestler Katie Patroch would be experiencing this year is of the pastry variety.

Instead, Patroch, a member of the London Western Wrestling Club, stormed back in the final seconds of her 59-kg freestyle match against Amanda Gerhart of Vancouver to win at the national team wrestle-offs and earn a trip to the world freestyle championships this fall in Herning, Denmark.

Patroch and Gerhart were tied at one round apiece heading into the final round at the Toronto Wrestling Centre. Gerhart scored the first point in the final round and appeared to be cruising to the title when Patroch, the 2007 Pan American champion who is coached by Canadian wrestling legend Ray Takahashi, exposed her long-time rival in the dying seconds for the dramatic win.

Patroch, 26, firmly has established herself as one of the top members of Canada's powerful women's team, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, and one of the more unlikely elite amateur athletes in this country. For unlike many national team athletes, Patroch didn't come into her sport until relatively late. Before taking up wrestling in her second year at high school (where she was coached by three-time Canadian Olympian Harry Geris, who passed away last year), Patroch never had competed in sports at any level.

"I was a very overweight kid and wrestling was the first and only sport I've done," Patroch said. "I don't consider myself a jock or an athlete. I was always an artsy kid, in a band."

Patroch played the flute before taking up wrestling and plans to pursue music again when she retires from the sport. When that is, though, is undetermined, as the London native loves her sport, even if it is often a huge sacrifice. When not training twice a day, Patroch teaches science full time at Westminster Secondary School in London, and also coaches the school team. Needless to say, there's precious little time to do anything else.

"They're long days, 14-15 hour days," Patroch said. "I train in the morning, go to work, coach the high school team and then go back to practice and do it again the next day. But I love it."

Patroch is the defending national champion at 59 kg, but didn't go to the 2008 Beijing Olympics because her weight class was not in the Olympic program. For the 2012 London Olympics, she is thinking about moving up to 63 kg, which is an Olympic event, but her first order of business is a good showing at the 2009 worlds.

Yesterday's wrestle-offs were missing the two medallists from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Gold-medallist Carol Huynh of Calgary, the 48 kg Olympic champion, hurt her knee in practice on Thursday and was unable to compete, though she will get a chance to qualify for the worlds at a later date. As well, defending Olympic Games 55 kg bronze medallist Tonya Verbeek of St. Catharines did not wrestle either as her challenger, Brittanee Laverdure of Calgary had law school commitments.

The other winners yesterday included Olympic team wrestlers Martine Dugrenier (67 kg) of Montreal and Ohenewa Akuffo (72 kg) of Brampton, as well as Jessica Bondy (51 kg) of St. Catharines and Justine Bouchard (63 kg) of Calgary.


Videos

Photos