The Maroons had an impressive showing at the Concordia Open Tournament on Saturday to round out the first portion of their season.
Coming into the meet 2–1, this was Chicago’s fourth competition in just ten days, and head coach Leo Kocher was happy with his team’s performance against difficult competition.
“The Concordia Tournament has a very strong field. Six teams are ranked in the top 20 in the NCAA,” Kocher said. “I was pleased with placing wrestlers in five weight classes in that field.” One team competing at Concordia was Wartburg College, winners of four of the last five national championships.
Five Chicago wrestlers placed in the top eight in their respective classes. Leading the pack of Maroons was 149-pound fourth-year Joeie Ruettiger, who went 6–2 on the day (9–2 on the season) and finished fifth in his class.
“It is nice to see us compete as well as we are now because I believe we aren’t close yet to where we can be as a team,” Ruettiger said.
At 197 pounds, second-year Mario Palmisano also placed fifth in his class. In addition, third-year Sam Pennisi (184 pounds) finished sixth, and fourth-year Jim Layton (157 pounds) took eighth in his class. First-year Alex Moore (133 pounds) wrestled well, going 3–2 on the day, but had to medically forfeit his seventh-place match.
The Maroons had a few matches that could have yielded better results, but Kocher was still pleased with his team.
“We had some performances where we might have ended up on the wrong end of the score but still wrestled a very strong match,” Kocher said.
In the first round, second-year Joe Ellis (141 pounds) wrestled against the eventual tournament champion, an opponent he faced at Elmhurst just a week prior.
“[Ellis] gave him his toughest match of the day,” Kocher said.
In addition, Layton lost a close overtime match against the eventual third-place finisher.
Chicago is off to a good start this season—their only notch in the loss column came against Elmhurst, which is ranked fourth nationally. Add in the Maroons’ performance at Concordia, and the team is feeling good about their chances going forward.
“Right now our wrestlers are positioned well to keep improving and be a nationally competitive team,” Kocher said. “We just need to work at staying healthy and keeping our attitude positive.”
The Maroons don’t hit the mats again until they head to Colorado Springs on December 16 for a six-day training trip.