Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Familiar foes grapple for glory

Sera prevails in lastest tilt with Torfason

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They didn't bother to flip a coin last weekend, and wouldn't you know it, the Western Ontario Mustangs' Liz Sera and the Lakehead University Thunderwolves' Aislynn Torfason wound up in the 59-kilogram final at the Greater Toronto Open Wrestling Tournament.

As the two Winnipeg grapplers locked up for the umpteenth time since middle school, it was Sera this time who took home the gold, scoring a narrow 1-0, 0-1, 1-0 victory over her Winnipeg Wrestling Club teammate.

The pair came to grips for the first time when Torfason was in Grade 8, when she upset Sera (Grade 9) to win provincial gold. In high school, Sera wrestled for Vincent Massey, and Torfason for Fort Richmond.

"I had never lost in high school wrestling, but in the provincial finals she beat me in 56-kilogram division," said Sera, adding that she, Torfason and Meghan King (University of Regina), are the only three current female wrestlers from Manitoba who have gone away to wrestle at university. "That's just because there is nothing (university wrestling) here for us."

Torfason draws the line at saying they are rivals. "We wrestle in the same weight class, but I wouldn't call us rivals. I was disappointed with the loss, but if I had to lose, I'm glad it was to her."

Over the past eight years, Torfason estimated that they have wrestled each other in a final "20 to 30 times," and so to avoid always meeting in the final, they began flipping a coin to see who would move up a weight, and thereby they could each win a gold medal. "I wanted to wrestle in the 56-kilo weight class, and so did she," said Sera. "We'd flip and the winner could choose the class she wanted to wrestle in, and the loser moved up a weight."

The coin-toss didn't always work in favour of the winner. "When I was in Grade 12 and she was in Grade 11, we went to Poland for a training camp," recalled Sera. "We flipped (at the tournament there). I won, but I ended up finishing fifth, while Aislynn finished second."

As their history goes, Sunday's final was one of the closest, and hardest-fought, bouts the two have had. Sera, using a double-leg takedown, won the first round, but Torfason got it back in the second when she took her out of bounds with a single-leg takedown. Sticking with what worked, Sera went back to the double-leg takedown in the tiebreaker round, and claimed the gold.

Torfason, who Tuesday was named Lakehead's female athlete of the week, said now that they are representing different universities, it's getting more difficult to read the other on the mat.

"When we trained together (in Winnipeg) it was awful," she said. "It was pure gridlock because we knew everything that the other person was going to do. Now that we are at different schools we only see each other about once every month."

allan.besson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2009 C5

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