Simon Chaves, a Gryphon defensive back, is a national champion.
Chaves, one of several two-sport athletes on the Gryphon roster, capped off his wrestling season by capturing Wrestling Canada’s Greco-Roman national championship in the men’s 82-kilogram class. Competing for the Guelph Wrestling Club, Chaves claimed the title when he recorded a fall over a London Wrestling Club opponent in the first-place match in the national championships in Montreal in the middle of March.
While Greco-Roman is contested at the Olympics, it’s not as popular or as well-known as freestyle wrestling, another Olympic sport, but the two styles are similar.
“You can’t touch the legs (in Greco-Roman),” Chaves said is the main difference between the two styles. “It’s all upper body and throws. You’re supposed to stay up tall so it’s all upper body and positioning.”
As university wrestling in Canada is strictly freestyle, Chaves is a member of both the University of Guelph wrestling team and the Guelph Wrestling Club as are most members of the university team. The university and club teams practise together which allows the wrestlers to get the best training partners they can. The Guelph club also competes in Greco-Roman a little more than most other clubs in Canada.
“I think naturally I’m better at (Greco-Roman), but I like both of them the same,” Chaves said.
The national title completed a busy championships weekend in Montreal for Chaves. He competed in the Canadian junior championships on a Friday, skipped the senior freestyle the following day and competed in Greco-Roman on the Sunday.
“Seniors was the day before so I had a nice day’s break before it,” he said. “I didn’t wrestle Seniors, I wrestled Juniors so I had a day between it, but it’s definitely a change to kind of get your mindset right because you will get penalized if you do touch the legs.”
Chaves did finish fourth in the 79 kg. class in the junior freestyle championships, but his focus was on Greco-Roman.
“That was my goal, to win that,” he said. “It’s a long day wrestling and weighing in the same day as well because that’s a new change as well.”
Chaves has found that wrestling can help with the physical aspect of football.
“The skills are translatable like tackling and shooting for the legs and things like that, but there’s always the aspect of the mental side of wrestling and the mental side of football, too, with getting into the playbook and things like that,” he said. “I’m still learning things now. There are certain things and techniques that I’ve never experienced before being new to defence, too.”
Chaves joined the Gryphons as the quarterback with the Guelph CVI Green Gaels following their local District 10 high league championship win in 2016. He did play a bit of defence with GCVI, but his main responsibility there was as quarterback. That experience can be both a help and a hindrance on defence.
“There are certain times when I think I can see what’s going to happen, but if it doesn’t it’s bad,” he said.
Being a two-sport athlete means he has to be good at time management to be able to stay on top of his schoolwork.
“It’s busy. It’s tough,” the first-year Criminal Justice student said. “I’ll have a workout and then I’ll have football and after football, I’ll have wrestling and after wrestling I have to go to the SAM (student-athlete mentorship) program to get my hours in the library and do all my homework on top of that, too. It’s just managing it each day by setting my calendar right.”
Heading into exams, Chaves is content with how his schooling has gone.
“The marks have been OK,” he said. “They could be better, but I think for the amount of things I’m doing, I’m doing the best I can.”