After an up-and-down season with athletes performing at high levels at certain times, Chicago (0–4) is looking to compete more consistently for the remainder of its season.
Having last wrestled November 23, the team has some time before its next meet, with the Triton College Art Kraft Memorial Tournament originally planned for December 14 canceled due to scheduling issues. The team is in the midst of preparing for a series of meets and other tournaments in December. The first meet is scheduled to begin December 17 with the North Central College duals. The priority for these competitions is maintaining the high level of performance that the team has seen from certain wrestlers throughout the season.
“The strong competition we have seen this year has been important for the development of our team—in the coaching staff’s view, we can be very competitive in every weight class,” head coach Leo Kocher (M.B.A. '87) said. “We have a large number of athletes who at some point have stepped up and performed at a high level. The job before us is to deliver that kind [of] performance every time. That will be our focus through the remainder of the season.”
The team has been training tirelessly, anchored by their first-years.
“We have a very young team, with five starting first-years. We haven’t been performing to our full potential so far in the season, but we’ve been working very hard in the wrestling room to succeed in competitions,” first-year Paul Papoutsis said.
The first-years on the team have all been consistently improving, which was seen at the Concordia Open last weekend. All five first-years wrestled in the tournament, with first-years Charlie Banaszak and Henry Powell placing in the top six of their weight categories. All three placers for Chicago were either first-years or second-years, attesting to the potential the team has to grow. Fourth-year Jeff Tyburski has also been a consistent factor for Chicago, notching wins at the Northwestern-Stevens Tech dual and Wheaton College dual in the heavyweight class.
The team as a whole has been working hard to improve its level of performance, especially with the high level of competition surrounding Chicago, with the Midwest region notoriously known for its difficulty both in the high school and collegiate level.
“Last year, the teams finishing second, third, and fourth in the nation all came out of our regional tournament. I think there will be a little falloff but I still expect it [to] repeat as the toughest region in the nation,” Kocher said.
The next two meets will both be in the Midwest region. The Nashville duals on December 21 will follow the North Central College duals. Last year, the Maroons performed exceptionally well at the North Central duals, winning eight straight matches to beat North Central 34–7. Shortly after Christmas, the South Siders will head to Northwestern to participate in the Midlands Championships, a two-day tournament. Forty-eight teams competed in the Midlands last year, known as one of the most grueling tournaments of the season. The team, however, is looking forward to each tournament until the end of December.
“I’m excited for our upcoming meets and [have] been working hard for the set of duals,” Papoutsis said.