By Fraser Caldwell
Opening their season at home Sunday, the Marauders put their depth on display to climb the podium seven times and notch 13 top five finishes at the McMaster Invitational, which they hosted at McMaster’s Therese Quigley Sport Hall.
The Mac men accounted for six of the medals on the day, with rookie Jalen Kato headlining the group by claiming gold at 100kg. His older brother Trystan was one of four Marauders to win silver, doing so at 72kg while Will Layman (120kg), Brad McGarrey (90kg) and Ben Zahra (82kg) also finished second in their respective weight classes.
Fifth-year veteran Ameen Aghamirian won bronze at 82kg, while Ligaya Stinellis provided the lone medal for the Marauders women by winning the bronze medal match at 48kg.
Four Marauders men finished fourth in their divisions, including Francesco Fortino (57kg), Kais Al-Khaldi (61kg), Gurpreet Ghuman (65kg) and Will Mott (68kg).
Opening his second year of eligibility, local product Todd Wong finished fifth in the 65kg division, while Simi Jayeoba similarly began her second year as a Marauder with a fifth-placed finish in the women’s 63kg class.
Jalen Kato’s gold medal match Sunday was a potential preview of many important divisional matches to come, as he wrestled fellow rookie and 2019 OFSAA gold medalist Myles McVeigh, who joined the Guelph Gryphons this season. In their first varsity encounter, Kato scored the dominant win by technical fall, outscoring McVeigh 12-2.
McMaster’s two veterans in the 82kg class both reached the podium, but Zahra was forced to settle for silver after having to pull out of the gold medal match with an injury. Aghamirian topped McVeigh’s brother Aidan, wrestling for Team Discipline, in the bronze medal match.
For the elder Kato brother, Sunday’s gold medal match pitted him against an over-age competitor in former Western Mustang Caleb Rutner, who now competes for Montreal’s Team Impact. Rutner got the better of Kato to win by technical fall and a 14-4 margin.
In the heavyweight 120kg division, Layman wrestled in a three-round format, winning two of his three matches over Theo Dracopoulos of Central Toronto and Kingston Wrestling Club’s Jonathan Vecchio, but missing gold with a 5-1 decision loss to Luciano Iacobelli.
Besting Western’s Thomas Reely and Concordia’s Julien Choquette to book a spot in the divisional final at 90kg, MaGarrey was ultimately stopped short of gold by Senior National bronze medalist Alex Brown.
After easing past Lakehead’s Jessica Hong to reach the second round in the 48kg division, Stinellis was beaten by Western’s Madi Parkes, but responded strongly to blast past Concordia’s Kaleigh Prieur on technical superiority and met Hong again in the bronze medal match.
There, she won the matchup for a second time to clinch a spot on the podium.