“Traditionally, our team has done very well in this tournament and we’re going for comparable results this year. We usually start to hit our stride around this time of year and the freshmen especially are beginning to peak.”
Third-year Will Long’s analysis was prescient. Chicago placed first this past weekend at the Al Hanke Invitational.
“It was a fun day,” head coach Leo Kocher (M.B.A. '87) said. “Every one of our wrestlers who was healthy competed. It was kind of low key with only five teams there, but it still provided the opportunities for some good wins and some losses where we learned something.”
Five teams attended the tournament at Elmhurst, where the Maroons took first place with 119 points, closely followed by second-place host Elmhurst College at 113 points.
With many wrestlers healthy, many of the weight classes had multiple Chicago athletes; this proved to be a double-edged sword, however, as South Siders occasionally had to face one another.
“It turned out that a lot of people stepped up,” Kocher said. “In a tournament like this, we can enter multiple wrestlers in a weight class, but only one can be designated a point scorer. However, the other wrestlers who are not scoring points can still impact the team race by defeating the point scorers from other teams.
“That is what happened at 134 where Chicago’s [third-year Adam] Wyeth won the weight class but U of C wrestlers [fourth-year Jake] Schramm and [second-year Gabe] Martinez both defeated the #2 seed from Elmhurst forcing him into fourth place. The same thing occurred at 149, where [third-year] Joe Ellis, who was not designated our point scorer, knocked off the Elmhurst point scorer in that weight class. Finally, [fourth-year] Preston Werth, who finished third at 184, also defeated a #2 seed from Elmhurst in the consolation round.
“Along with our nine point scorers who placed, the non-point scoring guys all made a difference that allowed us to finish ahead of Elmhurst. It was truly a team effort.”
First-year Charlie Banaszak, named UAA Athlete of the Week for the third time this season, also captured his weight’s title at 141, while fourth-year Sam Pennisi (184) finished second, as did third-year Mario Palmisano (197) and fourth-year Jeff Tyburski (285).
After last week’s invitational and the Chicago duals, the Maroons have won all their matches since returning from the winter break, largely due to their hard-fought matchups during the fall.
“We had a tough schedule early in the season. The team was exposed to some particularly tough competition at the Nashville duals,” Tyburski said. “This does two things: makes the record a little deceptive and prepares guys for additional matches; exposure to tough opponents makes one improve.”
The Maroons will travel to Wheaton College next Friday for the Pete Wilson Invitational.