If Wednesday’s meet had been split into two, spectators on hand for Chicago’s season finale at Ratner would have witnessed a pair of blowouts—one going to the Maroons and one going to their guests.
As it stands, the Maroons capitalized on another second-half surge to defeat Augustana 23–15.
The Vikings (1–8) jumped on top of the Maroons (4–7) to open the meet, sweeping the first four bouts en route to a 12–0 score. A role reversal in the second half, however, saw Chicago take five of the next six contests, including two decisions by pin, securing the squad’s second straight comeback win in dual meets.
“It did not start out too well,” head coach Leo Kocher said. “I liked the way our guys picked up after a string of tough early losses. Augustana has been a competitive team this season—several of their losses have been close ones. It is nice to close out the home season with a win.”
First-year Jimmy Schoettle, last week’s UAA athlete of the week, dropped a narrow 10–8 decision at 125 to open the meet, setting up the Vikings’ early run. Fourth-year Ben Hart and second-year Matt Hart were edged by one point apiece in their match-ups at 133 and 149, respectively, as Augustana capitalized on some early breaks.
But the Maroons wouldn’t settle for a loss in their final home meet of the year.
“These guys have been through a lot together this season. We have faced some pretty strong opposition,” Kocher said. “It looked like they felt their backs up against the wall and they responded with wins, pins, and major decisions.”
In a match that remained close until the end, fourth-year Jack Toussaint pulled out a 10–6 win to spark a rally that first-year Chris Canty and third-year Troy Carlson then continued with pins. Both turned in impressive performances with falls at 2:41 and 1:23, respectively, and three wins in the span of 10 minutes had the Maroons leading 15–12.
While Augustana was able to even the score with a win in the 184-pound match, the hosts sealed the comeback win when fourth-year Justin Lucas earned a major decision at 197, followed by an easy win at 285 for second-year Ryan Hatten.
“We really wanted the major decision from Justin in order to take the pressure off of Ryan Hatten for the next match,” Kocher said. “Justin typically competes well—he has for four years here. He knows his strengths, and he takes his style right at his opponents.”
With two weeks remaining before the conference championships on February 7, the Maroons are nearing the end of a schedule that has already featured seven dual meets against ranked opponents. Wednesday night’s win brings Chicago to 4–0 against unranked challengers, but there won’t be much rest before the Maroons take to the mat against some of the country’s top teams.
Tomorrow’s trip to UW–Whitewater has Chicago competing in the six-team Border Brawl dual meets. Whitewater (11–3), ranked fifth in the nation, already boasts a 30–6 win over the Maroons at the beginning of the season. At the meet, Chicago will also face 14th-ranked Elmhurst (9–2), who defeated the South Siders 38–9 on December 2.
“We have a lot of challenging schedule left this season,” Kocher said. “We will see more top-10 teams in dual meets, and the Wheaton tournament next weekend might be the toughest Division-III tournament in the nation. We just have to learn to deliver our best effort every time out and stay healthy.”