This past Saturday, the Maroons suffered defeats in their season-opening dual meet against No. 20 Northwestern (2–0) and Stevens Tech (1–1) by scores of 38–0 and 22–9, respectively. Their final stat line might not be one for the mantelpiece, but the general consensus amongst the team indicates that both meets were a heuristic experience in which several wrestlers, including many first-years, got a good account of themselves.
One of the highlights of the day included the performance of first-year Charlie Banaszak, who lost to Northwestern third-year Pat Greco 20–7 in the 141-pound division in his first match, but defeated Stevens Tech wrestler Mike Colimasz 8–2 in his second performance to round out the day. The match against Greco was especially noteworthy given the Northwestern wrestler’s experience: Greco placed sixth at the 2013 Big Ten Championships to qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships.
Many of the Maroons, including head coach Leo Kocher, agree that there were several positive takeaways from Saturday.
“In my mind, nobody backed down against a very good Big Ten program in Northwestern. I liked the way we competed. Stevens Tech put a good team on the mat as well and we were not far from splitting the matches 5–5 instead of 3–7,” Kocher said.
Paul Papoutsis, a first-year whose two matches on Saturday were the first of his college career, said that even though the results were not ideal, he and his teammates will work to shore up their weaknesses and enhance their strengths before Thursday’s home meet against Wheaton.
“There’s definitely things I need to work on, but the overall experience helped shed light on some things we need to do,” he said. “It was exciting wrestling a Big Ten team. They put in all their starters and wrestled intensely.”
Third-year Mario Palmisano echoed Papoutsis’s sentiments while extolling the performances of the first-years.
“The first-years held their own and wrestled competitively. I’m proud of this incoming class,” Palmisano said. “[W]e’re all looking forward to this Thursday against Wheaton and the week ahead.”
Fellow third-year Adam Wyeth, who wrestled against Stevens Tech, believes that many of the mistakes his teammates made on Saturday will be resolved throughout the course of the season.
“Technically, I was okay,” Wyeth said. “It was the first meet of the year. In general it’s kind of hard to get going right at the start. We know the mistakes we made, we’ll look at the film to improve, and we’ll be getting better throughout the rest of the year. It’s just about working hard every day.”
The Maroons will take on the Wheaton Thunder this Thursday at 7 p.m. Like Chicago, Wheaton opened their season this past weekend, finishing second overall with 89 points in the Messiah Invitational. Shaking the Thunder will be the Maroons’ next challenge.