Chicago took first place on Saturday at the Elmhurst Invitational, beating the 13th-ranked Elmhurst squad that had previously bested them in early December.
The Maroons placed an athlete seventh or better in each of the 10 weight classes, including wins by third-years James Layton and Josh Hotta at 157 pounds and 149 pounds respectively. Layton went 3–0 with one major decision, while Hotta went 4–0 with two major decisions.
“Hotta and Layton put in workmanlike jobs,” said head coach Leo Kocher, who is entering his 34th year in the position. “They had control of every single match they wrestled in.”
Layton swept the competition as the first seed, Hotta as the third. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the meet though was first-year Devon Range’s first-round upset of Elmhurst’s top-seeded Mike Ryan in the 165-pound weight class by an 8–7 decision. After losing in the semifinals, Ryan got his revenge in the consolation bracket, but Range, competing up a weight class, still left a strong impression.
“He showed good talent and ability,” Kocher said.
Elmhurst sat a couple of their top wrestlers, including their lone wrestler in the 125-pound division, who was out with injury. That does not mean the Maroons’ victory was especially qualified, however: The squad had faced a similar injury plague in their first meet with Elmhurst.
The Elmhurst Invitational also saw Chicago first-year Ryan Hankenson finish a strong second place, losing 5–2 to the top seed in the final round of the 174-pound bracket. The Maroons also had four wrestlers finish third—third-year Francisco Acosta at 133 pounds, second-year Sam Pennisi at 184 pounds, first-year Mario Palmisano at 197 pounds, and second-year Jeff Tyburski at 285 pounds.
A third-place finish translates to each of the wrestlers in the quartet going undefeated after suffering an early loss.
“They showed a really strong effort,” Kocher said.
Kocher also noted that his team is on the rise. Twenty of his team’s 25 wrestlers are underclassmen.
“We’re a younger team, so we’ve improved,” he said.
The Maroons took on 30th-ranked Augustana late last night, losing 22–18.