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sports ■ 25 

mgateway ■ WWW_THE6*rEW&YOrnINt.CA « Volume 103, Issue 19 

Golden Bears linebacker to return to 
International Bowl for second year 


Andrew Jeffrey 


Despite experiencing a disappoint¬ 
ing season on the field in CIS play, 
third-year Golden Bears linebacker 
Connor Ralph is headed back to 
Austin, Texas for the International 

It will be Ralph's second year rep¬ 
resenting World Team in their an¬ 
nual game against Team USA held 
by the International Federation of 
American Football on Feb. 5. The 
game sees a group of top university- 
level football players chosen from 
various countries such as Canada, 
Japan, Mexico. American Samoa 
and in different parts of Europe. 

They'll square off against a team 
of top American college football 
players. Despite the relative low 
stakes of the game, Ralph's ex¬ 
perience with the game last year 
showed him that it's more com¬ 
petitive than other similar types of 

"It’s real competitive — it's not 
like your typical all-star game," 
Ralph said. "Everyone wants to 
win, and in the last two interna¬ 
tional competitions, Canada has 
beat the US twice, so they're go¬ 
ing to be coming with everything 
they’ve got, so hopefully we can 
make it a third." 

Ralph was one of several Canada 

West players chosen to the U-19 
team after racking up 79.5 total 
tackles in two seasons with the 
Bears. As a part of the Internation¬ 
al Bowl last season, Ralph was on 
the first World Team to ever defeat 
Team USA at the event. 

“There’s a lot of 
talent (in Canada) that 
almost goes under- 
recognized because the 
States get all the media 
attention when it comes 
to football. After I play 
those American kids, 
I think there’s a lot of 
Canadians who aren’t far 
off from being 
at that level. 


With the lack of international 
competition for the United States 
in football and their strong record 
at this event, there's extra moti¬ 
vation for Ralph and the rest of 
his team to defeat the American 
squad to prove the strength of in¬ 
ternational competition compared 
to American university football 

“There's a lot of talent here that 
almost goes under-recognized be¬ 
cause the States gets all the media 
attention when it comes to foot¬ 
ball,” Ralph said. 

"After I play those American 
kids, I think there's a lot of Cana¬ 
dians who aren't far off from being 
at that level." 

Comparing the American and 
Canadian athletes thatwill be play¬ 
ing each other in Austin, for the 
most part Ralph sees the competi¬ 
tion being even. 

He explained that no matter 
the background of each player on 
World Team, they all want to prove 
their home country can play foot¬ 
ball at as high of a calibre as any¬ 
where else. 

“There’s the freaks who are really 
athletic down (in the United States) 
moreso, like the Cam Newtons and 
stuff like that," Ralph explained. 
“Other than that, I think there's 
regular athletes, and once they're 
in the program, the training makes 
them better. But I honestly don’t 
think there's a ton of difference be¬ 
tween the top athletes here and the 
athletes down there. 

“As an athlete you want to be the 
best and you're thinking aboutthat 
when you’re there. They’re going 
to Alabama or Texas and you just 
want to prove that you could have 
been in their shoes too, and able 
to go to those schools if you lived 
down there." 

Bears hope to maintain undefeated record 
nearing playoffs in Manitoba this weekend 


While modesty is a great policy, it 
can't be denied that the statistics 
heading into the weekend heavily fa- 
vourthe undefeated Bears. The team 
has only dropped eight sets all year, 
which is 18 less than the Bisons. who 
boast the second-lowest mark in the 

“(Manitoba) is a really good team 
and playing in their gym is going to 
be tough," Olmstead said. “We were 
in Brandon a week ago. which was 
one of our harder trips this season, 
and we expect the same deal next 

While stingy defence has been 
a source of pride for the Bears, the 
team's ability to score points has tru¬ 
ly stood out this season. The Bears 
lead the CIS in a number of offen¬ 
sive statistics, with 13.82 kills per 
set and 13.02 assists per set. That 
offensive success can largely be at¬ 
tributed to Olmstead's stellar play, 
who sits alongside senior right side 
Mitch Irvine in the top six in the CIS 
in a number of individual offensive 

“(Irvine) is the powerhouse of 
the team. He's a really strong hitter 
and is good at getting by the block," 
Bears sophomore Kevin Proudfoot 
said, "(Olmstead) is our man in the 
clutch. He hits the ball with pace 
but also has a variety of shots to get 
through pretty much whatever the 
defence throws at him. ” 

Manitoba enters the weekend hav¬ 
ing won four straight matches to se¬ 
cure a playoff berth, and they now 
find themselves in a three-way tie for 
third in Canada West at 12-6. The Bi¬ 
son’s defence ranks amongst the top 
in the nation, and their 213 blocks 
and 799 digs respectively rank as the 
second and third best marks in all of 

"Manitoba is always a hard gym 
to play in. Their fans are loud and 

they are always a feisty team, so we 
are just going to have to do the same 
things we have been doing all year. 
If we can do that, I think we will be 
fine," Bears left side Ryley Barnes 

This weekend's action marks the 
first time the two teams will meet 
since the Bisons eliminated the 
Bears in the semi-finals of last year's 

»M8» MO 

Canada West playoffs. Manitoba is in 
the thick of a playoff positioning race 
to secure a home playoff quarterfi¬ 
nal, and would no doubt love the op¬ 
portunity to hand Alberta their first 
loss. Not only will the Bears' perfect 
season be on the line, but the team 
will also be playing for a measure of 
redemption this weekend against 
the Bisons. 



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