Local judoist bound for Winter Games

Jared Catholique-Bruyere stared his nemesis in the face—and then put him on his backside.
The 15-year-old judoist from Couchiching beat archrival Mike Grunberg to win the 81+ kg division final at the Canada Winter Games qualifying meet in Ajax, Ont. last weekend.
Catholique-Bruyere earned his spot at the Games, slated Feb. 22-March 8 in Bathurst-Campbellton, N.B., by beating Grunberg twice over the weekend—an even more impressive accomplishment considering he’d never defeated him before.
“At the provincial team qualifiers, [Grunberg] was always the one who got in my way,” said a quietly triumphant Catholique-Bruyere. “He’s big, and he has one big throw that got me all the time.
“But I learned how to fight back against it,” he added.
The stars seemed to be aligned in Catholique-Bruyere’s favour these days as he swept to gold in both the St. Boniface Open and the Ontario Open earlier this fall.
He quickly subdued Toronto’s Nedjo Sarenac in his opening bout at Ajax, winning by virtue of a 15-second hold-down maneuver, before beating Ottawa’s Alex Horvath in similar fashion in his next match.
“Most of the time, I don’t throw people hard enough to put them on their back to win automatically,” Catholique-Bruyere noted. “But I’m good with the hold-down. Not very many people can get out of them.
“The key is I hold their head tight,” he remarked. “When you’ve got the head under control, you’ve got the whole body under control.”
His fast start earned him a meeting with Grunberg, which ended when Catholique-Bruyere executed a perfect throwing move that put his opponent flat on the mat.
The victory allowed him to rest until the final while Grunberg had to fight through two more matches on the ‘B’ side of the draw to claw his way into a rematch.
“I watched him pretty close in his ‘B’ matches and he was trying some different things,” said Catholique-Bruyere. “Scouting him played a big part when it came to the final.”
With the Games berth on the line, Catholique-Bruyere lured Grunberg into a trap that he would not escape.
“He knows I always go for the legs to throw someone so he tried to keep his distance,” Catholique-Bruyere recalled. “I turned in the opposite way that I usually do to throw, and then I got him.”
With Grunberg at his mercy, Catholique-Bruyere slapped on his hold-down move and a minute into the match, vindication was his.
“He wasn’t as much in shape as you think you’d need to be at this level,” said the victor. “He depends more on his strength than his conditioning.
“But it did help that he had to fight two more times than I did before the final.”
The young martial artist considers himself a defensive fighter who preys on the mistakes of his opponents. He credits hard work, focus, and his father, Wallace, as crucial components to his success.
“My Dad helps me a lot, and he doesn’t ever let me get down on myself too much,” said Catholique-Bruyere.
His concentration will centre on his strength and conditioning in preparation for the Winter Games while maintaining his confidence by remembering his solid performance at last year’s national championship.
“I’m expecting I’ll meet up with at least one of the guys from Quebec that was at nationals,” he predicted. “I’m hoping for a gold medal.”