Cochrane Cowboys alumni Connor McNeice has won his first silver medal in the USports national wrestling championship.
The accomplished wrestler is in his first year with the University of Calgary Dinos and is left with a bittersweet taste from not claiming gold.
Competing in the 65 kg gold final, he lost to Brock University's Christopher. McIssac in a 4-2 decision after being pushed off the mat in literally the last second of the bout. It was 2-2 until then.
"It’s kind of bittersweet because I still wanted to go in there and win. But going deep was good and I left it all on the mat."
McNeice had been fighting pneumonia through the championship and the Canada West competition just two weeks prior. His cardio conditioning wasn't up to snuff for the championship because he had been off the mats for three weeks. While his muscles didn't fatigue during matches, his lungs weren't up to capacity.
"The circumstances leading up to it weren’t ideal for me but hopefully in the upcoming years I’ll be feeling a lot healthier."
He is feeling better and is currently focusing on preparing for the club junior and senior national championships being hosted in Saskatoon, Mar. 22-24. Success there would see him advance to the world championship being hosted by Slovakia.
"To me, that’s more important than USports itself because I can qualify for the world championship. So I’m excited for that and I have my eye on that right now."
"I'm definitely working on getting my lungs healthier and getting my conditioning up and also working on never stopping and always looking for ways to score and create opportunities."
He has one more year competing as a junior but also will compete in the senior event at the Canadian national championship.
Three other Cochrane wrestlers were competing at the nationals, hosted by the University of Calgary, Feb. 21-23.
Dino Brendan McKeage came fourth in the 61 kg weight class after facing Brock's Joseph Martin in the bronze medal bout. His brother, Aidan McKeage, of the University of Alberta Gold Bears, was sixth in the 76 kg class. Dino Callum McNeice, also in the 76 kg class, placed fourth after wrestling Aaron Orzsak in the bronze medal match.