A ref raises the arm of University of the Fraser Valley champion wrestler Brad Hildenbrandt (right) after his recent victory over Kalin Langford, with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. (submitted photo: UFV Athletics)

A ref raises the arm of University of the Fraser Valley champion wrestler Brad Hildenbrandt (right) after his recent victory over Kalin Langford, with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. (submitted photo: UFV Athletics)

Champ Surrey wrestler looks to ‘threepeat’ at U SPORTS nationals in Calgary

Cloverdale’s Brad Hildenbrandt named male wrestler of year after Canada West title win

Surrey-based wrestler Brad Hildenbrandt earned historic honours at the Canada West championships held in Abbotsford on Feb. 8 and 9.

The fourth-year grappler with University of the Fraser Valley claimed his third consecutive heavyweight (120kg) men’s title, and won the conference’s male wrestler of the year award – a UFV first for the prize, voted on by the head coaches.

Days later, Hildenbrandt was the named the Canada West men’s first star of the week across all sports, and then added the U SPORTS male athlete of the week award to his long list of accolades this month.

“It feels good to get a bit of extra recognition for what I’ve accomplished,” he told the Now-Leader.

Hildenbrandt, 22, graduated from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary and still lives near the Cloverdale school.

This week he’s preparing to travel to Calgary for the U SPORTS national wrestling championships, held on Feb. 22-23.

“I definitely expect to win it again, because I won it the last couple years in a row,” a confident Hildenbrandt explained.

In elementary school, he “wasn’t that great of an athlete” – but that changed in Grade 8 when Hildenbrandt immediately found success on the wrestling mat. “I was always a pretty big kid and just developed my wrestling skills,” he related.

Today, the six-foot-one Hildenbrandt is studying at UFV to eventually work as a firefighter or with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

“Wrestling is part of my identify now,” he said. “I guess when people think of me they think of the wrestler, but I’ll be something else one day.”

At the Canada West championships in Abbotsford, Hildenbrandt won his first match of the weekend via pin, and his next two by technical superiority on his way to a memorable awards haul.

• RELATED: VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: UFV wrestlers excel at Canada West Championships.

Hildenbrandt and 10 other UFV Cascades team members who won individual medals at the CW championships advanced to the national championships in Calgary.

He’s wrestled at the 120kg weight over the past five years.

“I only weigh about 115 right now, so I’m trying to get my weight up,” he said. “To do that I have to eat around 6 or 7,000 calories a day, and drink lots of water.”

In addition to his recent awards, Hildenbrandt is the UFV’s two-time reigning male athlete of the year across all sports, and represented Canada at the U23 World Championships in Romania.

with file from Ben Lypka/Black Press Media