After three meets and one month of competition, the Chicago wrestling squad will travel to Wheaton tomorrow evening to compete in its last meet of the quarter.
The Maroons made some noise at their last tournament in Concordia on November 22. There, three South Siders finished in the top eight of their respective weight classes, and a total of seven Maroons recorded at least two victories on the day. This was even more impressive considering that the field was sprinkled with Division I and II athletes as well.
“Concordia was my first college tournament and it really showed me what college wrestling is all about,” said second-year Michael Sepke.
Sepke missed his entire first-year season because of an injury.
“In college, unlike high school, every match is a grind and you have to be ready for anything the moment the starting whistle blows,” Sepke said. “Wednesday I have to be ready to push the pace right from the get-go.”
Despite being a year and a half removed from the mat, Sepke came out strong in his first collegiate tournament, going 5–2 in the 157-pound weight class to earn fifth place and co-wrestler of the week honors in the UAA.
“Wrestling at the collegiate level has definitely been a learning curve, and above all I learned that I won’t get away with the mistakes I could make in high school,” first-year Nick Ferraro said.
Ferraro went 4–2 at Concordia and, like Sepke, acknowledged that the athletes at this level of play are consistently stronger and quicker than at earlier stages in his career.
“I have to tighten up my wrestling and prevent my mistakes from costing me more matches,” Ferraro said.
Sepke believes that in order for the team to be successful this week against Wheaton, each competitor needs to focus on getting ahead in his respective match.
“Against Wheaton we are each going to have to stay in good position and create offense out of our ties,” Sepke said. “In the past we’ve let too many scoring opportunities get away in key matches. If we all do our job in each match the team score is going to take care of itself.”
Ferraro made similar observations, emphasizing the importance of he him and his teammates avoiding crucial mistakes and capitalizing on opportunities.
“As a team we have to each focus on our individual matches and do whatever it takes in our match to either get bonus points or not give them up,” Ferraro said.
Individually, the newer members of the team are working on perfecting their craft.
“Transitioning from high school to collegiate wrestling has changed my preparation from learning new things to perfecting old ones. I grew up learning a lot of different moves and when to use them, and now it’s time to perfect those moves so I can use them to win,” Ferraro said.
Sepke took a step further back when analyzing his adjustment period, emphasizing hard work and perseverance.
“For me the key is just being focused on getting better every day,” Sepke said. “When you aren’t where you want to be you just have to work at it until you are.”
The Maroons will face Wheaton on the road tomorrow at 7 p.m.