When the annual Guelph Open wrestling tournament starts at the Guelph Gryphons Athletic Centre Saturday, Guelph’s Chaves brothers will be hoping to pin down medal finishes.
Alexander Chaves is a fifth-year member of the Gryphon wrestling team and the reigning U Sports national university wrestling champion in the 72kg weight class.
“That was fantastic. That was my fourth year so it was pretty good doing that,” Alexander said. “The low lows hurt, but the high highs make it that much better.”
Simon Chaves is a third-year member of the Gryphons and a two-sport athlete as he’s also on the university’s varsity football team.
“I feel like it’s beneficial, but it can hurt my wrestling at football, but it can also help me because I feel like they translate well,” Simon said. “I think the mental side of it is really good for football. I don’t get as nervous as I do for wrestling. Football’s not as mentally draining as this, but there’s definitely conditioning and learning how to tackle and things like that for takedowns relate very well.”
Both are Guelph CVI graduates and both are also members of the Guelph Wrestling Club for which they’ll compete at the conclusion of the university wrestling season.
Both will wrestle in the Guelph Open and use it as a tune-up for the Ontario University Athletics provincial university wrestling championships that are to be held at the GGAC.
“I think it’s good to get a feel for what it’s going to be like because it’s a good practice tournament for the OUAs,” Simon said. “The Guelph Open is always a really good tournament so I think that’ll be good for it as well.”
Basically, it’s the convenience of not having to travel to another city to compete that’s the biggest thing about any meet at home. The host team’s wrestlers know where everything in the gym and on campus is located and they also have their own training facility that they can use for warmups. They can also have a larger cheering gallery with friends and family showing up to root for them and that could cause some extra pressure.
“I don’t think there’s pressure for me,” Alexander said. “It’s a tournament regardless of where it is so I don’t feel pressure that way. I know what I’m capable of and I think if I don’t attain that or do what I’m capable of, then I feel that kind of pressure. I just want to make sure that I go out there and wrestle my hardest and my smartest.”
“Wrestling is always full of pressure, but I think it’ll be nice to be able to sleep in my own bed,” Simon said.
The Chaves brothers started wrestling at the same time. Both were playing minor football when their coach Jeremy LaTour, a former Gryphon national university and national wrestling champion from Guelph who competed in the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Toronto, suggested they try wrestling. Ironically, LaTour took up wrestling after his minor football coach suggested he do so.
“It’s going OK, but it can always be going a lot better. The important thing is to make it better. I’ve been working hard trying to fix little things to get there,” Alexander said of his current university wrestling season. “I’ve just got to fine-tune stuff. I know the opponents, so it’s just about getting ready and preparing for them properly and coming in with the right mindset which is also important.”
Simon has competed in a single tournament this season, finishing second in his weight class at the York Open in November shortly after the finish of the football season.
Both have their eyes on the U Sports national championship tournament. Like most university athletes who were competing before the Canadian Interuniversity Sport was renamed U Sports in 2016, they still refer to the national university championship meet as the CIs.
“Definitely my goal is the OUAs,” Simon said. “That’s going to be my focus, but I want to move on to CIs for sure.”
Both are also looking at the Canadian championships with the GWC after the completiong of the university season.
“Pretty much the Nationals are coming this summer and that’s the main goal at this point after, of course, the OUAs and CIs,” Alexander said. “This is my final year so short term it’s CIs and OUs. Long term wise it’ll be Nationals.”
Alexander is hoping to repeat some of last year’s performances, but certainly not the one he had at the OUA championships when they were also hosted by the Gryphons.
“As far as last year goes, the OUAs, I just kind of got a little too much in my head,” he said. “I know that for the most part just going out there, I’ve got to be calmer. If that happens, I’ll be successful. I’ve just got to make sure that I’m not in my own head and do what I’m capable of.”
After finishing third in the men’s 72-kilogram class at the provincial university meet, Alexander won the U Sports title in that weight class.
Simon was fourth in the OUA championships in the men’s 92-kilogram class.
One thing that does happen once in a while at meets is that both of them will be wrestling at the very same time. While both concentrate on their own matches, they often take a glance to see how the other is doing.
“Sometimes I will, but I try to focus on my match, too,” Simon said. “You can’t help it. You look over, take a peek, and then focus on your match. As soon as the match is done, I’m looking over.”
The Chaves brothers are often training partners, roomates during trips for out-of-town competitions and sounding boards for one another.
“If he can tweak a little move of mine or help me out, for sure he’ll do that and I’ll do the same for him, too. It’s good to feed off each other,” Alexander said. “There are a lot of stuff we talk about. We’re very positive with each other. We can read each other well, so that’s good.”
“We use each other very well as training partners and to bounce off different styles and what we like to do,” Simon said. “I think we work well together. We both have the same mindset and work ethics.”
The Guelph Open is set for Saturday while the OUA championships are to be held at the GGAC Feb. 1. The U Sports finals are to be hosted by Brock University at St. Catharines Feb. 21 and 22.