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NCWA All-American Represents Canada in Beijing

08/13/2008 -

Two-time NCWA National Champion Travis Cross hits the mats this week in China as he represents Canada and his home town Port Alberni in a quest for Olympic Gold.

Travis laughs nervously at the notion that he’s the talk of the town. Truth is, that’s exactly what’s happening to the Beijing-bound wrestler in Port Alberni, B.C. Just ask the mayor.

“He’s probably the most well-known person in the community,” says Ken McRae, mayor of the city of some 18,000 on Vancouver Island. “Everybody knows Travis.”As the mayor puts it,

the city is leaving “no stone unturned” to ensure Cross, 27, can focus on being at his best at the Olympic Games. “Overwhelming,” Cross says. It’s a word he uses frequently when describing the town's support.

Being one of Port Alberni's own is what makes Cross unique. Part-time or former Port Alberni residents have competed at the Olympics before but never a lifer. Never a guy who was born and raised in the city, who left for a few years to attend Douglas College where he captured 2 US Titles in the National Collegiate Wrestling Championships, but then returned to work for the city and to marry his high school sweetheart. "This is special,” says McRae “I think everyone in the community is really aware that they’re sending one of their own to the Olympics.”

Cross a 3x All-American in the States Won the NCWA Title in 2003, 2002 and placed 4th in 2001. He is the only Canadian ever honored as the NCWA's Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Rick Bolhuis, the current Head Coach At Grand Valley State University, Wrestled Travis in the National Finals in 2003 and said "He was really tough" Bolhuis fell to the current Olympian, by a score of 10-7, but said "I think I hung with him pretty well, we were a good match-up."

When Cross takes to the mat in Beijing, Port Alberni and Bolhuis will be watching. There has been talk of setting up a giant TV screen in a central area of the city, and several businesses and groups have shown interest in hosting late-night screenings. Many of the NCWA Wrestlers and Coaches in the States will be watching and rooting for Cross. " American or Not" said NCWA Executive Director Jim Giunta" We will all be pulling for him to bring home the Gold. He's one of ours and we are proud of his dedication and accomplishments"

“So many people have helped me realize this dream. They’ve been along for the journey, and it’s really exciting they’ll be able to see me there,” says Cross. “This really has been a shared journey."

If he wrestles his best in Beijing, Cross says he's capable of winning Olympic gold. Cross placed a best-ever eighth at the 2007 world championships in the 84 kg weight class. The national champion the past three years, he won bronze at the 2006 Pan American championships and recently won gold at an international tournament in Italy.