North Stars captain passes down the torch to rookie

JUST LIKE FAMILY: Dimitry Galamiyev, Rachel Mervin and Roma Culeanu were part of a winning combination at the 2011 OFSAA meet in Sudbury for wrestling. Missing from the photo is teammate Ruslan Bollaev.

Though Newtonbrook claims both regional, city titles graduation will take senior wrestlers away

When Dimitry Galamiyev joined the wrestling team, the thought of leading a squad to OFSAA was only a pipe dream.

But in March, the senior Newtonbrook North Star travelled with his team up to Sudbury and saw sixth place finishes from himself (boys 67.5 kilogram) and rookie Roma Culeanu (boys 41 kilogram), as well as fifth place finishes for Rachel Mervin (girls 41 kilogram) and Ruslan Bollaev (boys 77 kilogram).

Starting out four years ago, the grade 12 student looked up to his captain, and was sure to follow instructions from his coach Leonid Kilimnik.

“I was actually doubtful I would be in that position but I thank Mr. Kilimnik for being such a great coach,” Galamiyev said of making it to OFSAA. “He gets you out of your comfort zone and he really focuses on you and your potential.”

Setting a goal to beat his original top 8 at OFSAA, Galamiyev admitted there was still something missing.

“It wasn’t that disappointing but we would have liked to see a medal coming home,” he said.

Kilimnik agreed, adding he didn’t have high expectations heading to the nickel country.

“The season was frustrating at times,” he said. “I knew they could wrestle better and the results didn’t necessarily show it.”

At the Ontario Provincial Championships, the team had a poor showing, but with the verve only seen in athletes with a goal, Kilimnik got his charges back on track.

“I think that part of it is they really dug deep,” he said. “They realized they want and can get it.”

It wasn’t all training and practising — keeping their mind’s eye on the prize also helped.

“We do visualization, imagery sessions as well,” Kilimnik said. “They’re going to see themselves as winners and fight for it and that’s what happened at OFSAA.”

Newtonbrook’s boys pulled in their eighth consecutive regional title as well as their seventh city title while the girls, buoyed by Rachel Mervin, showed their dominance at the same levels.

It wasn’t easy for Mervin, who knew she gained enough weight to move up a class to grapple with more dynamic wrestlers.

“I expected it to be difficult,” she said. “Top six wasn’t a reality.”

With the 2011-12 season fast approaching Kilimnik will lose Galamiyev, Bollaev and Mervin to graduation. However, the future lies with Culeanu.

This season has seen the young North Star in the same position as Galamiyev when he started.

And much like life, sport sees full circle, as Culeanu also looks up to his captain.

“(Galamiyev) was great, always looked after me, he did whatever he could do to make it better for me,” Culeanu said.

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