SPORTS

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November 8, 2013

Elmhurst up next after Wheaton loss

Following last weekend’s losses against Northwestern and Stevens Tech, Chicago fell to Wheaton 27–11 in a dual meet last night. The South Siders’ record dropped to 0–3.

Though Wheaton’s 16–point win appeared dominant, four of the 10 matches came down to two points or less.

First-year Charlie Banaszak provided the Maroons’ biggest win of the night, taking a 17–2 technical fall victory at 141 pounds. Fourth-year Jeff Tyburski also won his bout with a third-period pin in the heavyweight class. Banaszak and Tyburski were the only Maroons to record wins.

It’s still early on in the season, but the Maroons were disappointed to lose to a team they have defeated in dual meets during the last few seasons. Even so, head coach Leo Kocher (M.B.A. '87) was aware of the threat the Thunder posed to his squad.

“Wheaton just completed a tournament where it had three champions and two third placers. We need to knock off a couple of good wrestlers to beat them,” he said before the meet.

In the end, Chicago wasn’t able to to get those victories, but it is still optimistic about its prospects this season, and many of the older wrestlers are focussing on the experience the first-years will gain in these early season meets.

“Our first-years look really tough and are improving really well,” second-year Gabe Martinez said. “Personally, I like to see that. I’m sure we can start things off well in these meets.”

Chicago will face the Elmhurst Bluejays (0–0) next in an away meet on Saturday at noon. Elmhurst is a familiar foe, as the Maroons played the team last year, losing 32–3.

The Bluejays enjoyed a very successful 2012-13 season, and are currently ranked second (per the October 14 NCAA Division III rankings). After compiling a 12–1 overall record, Elmhurst finished second in both the NCAA Midwest Regionals and NCAA Division III Championships in Iowa. However, the graduation of many of the Bluejays wrestlers could increase the parity of the competition on Saturday, according to second-year wrestler Mike Matlaga.

“Elmhurst graduated a lot of guys last year. It’s like it’s a completely different team, whereas we didn’t graduate as many,” he said. “It’ll still be good, but it’s a more level playing field than last year.”

Matlaga also expounded upon his outlook for the entire season and beyond.

“We’re a pretty young team, with hardly any fourth-years and a lot of first-years. We’ll improve a lot between now and the end of the season, and build upon our youth in seasons to come,” he said.

“Each of our first-years has someone in their weight class to learn from, so it’s good to have that mentoring process,” second-year Steven Franke said.

Certainly, strong individual and team results in the two upcoming meets will turn these next few days into a point of inflection on the graph of this young team’s season, with significantly positive end behavior.

The Maroons head to Elmhurst, IL this Saturday. The meet is scheduled to begin at noon.

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