BRITISH COLUMBIA

Burnaby Wrestler Pins Down NCAA Scholarship

06/26/2013 07:12 EDT | Updated 08/26/2013 05:12 EDT
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Amar Dhesi has done many things to make his coach proud, but the way he's leaving the wrestling team at Burnaby Central Secondary School might be what Gianni Buono remembers most.

The 17-year-old heavyweight wrestler heads to Oregon State University this fall, as the first B.C wrestler to get a scholarship to a NCAA Division I university.

"He's pretty tenacious, he's talented, he's big, he's strong and he has a real passion to get better," Buono told Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio's On the Coast, noting wrestlers usually peak in their mid-20s.

The scholarship is the latest in a string of athletic achievements for Dhesi. When he was in Grade 9, he was an unseeded entry in the highly competitive 78 kilogram division and went on to beat the No. 1, 2, and 4 seeds on his way to winning the provincial high school gold medal.

He has four national freestyle titles, and laid claim to a fifth in Greco-Roman wrestling. At the age of 14, the youngest on the wrestling team, he placed third at the Pan Am Games.

But the turning point came last summer in Oregon when Dhesi was at a regional tournament. He was matched up against a top wrestler and everyone was expecting it to be a blow-out against Dhesi.

But his coach Buono knew the teenager could beat his opponent, who happened to be Oregon State University's best prospect.

"I went in there, expected it be harder, pummeled him a bit, and then found out he was the top recruit," said Dhesi.

The discussions around a scholarship happened after that tournament, with Dhesi having to improve his grades and continue his success on the mat.

Given he beat the No. 1-ranked American collegiate prospect earlier this year, it seems Oregon State won't be disappointed.

On the Coast is on the air every weekday from 3 p.m to 6 p.m on CBC Radio One, 88.1FM/690AM.

With files from the CBC's Jodie Martinson. You can follow her on twitter @JodieMartinson

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