This Saturday, the Maroons competed in two different events: the Concordia (WI) Open and the Millikin Duals. Both were tough matchups filled with strong competition for the South Siders, who were forced to split the team into two squads so they could compete at both meets simultaneously,
When asked if he thought this weekend was a successful one for the wrestling Maroons, second-year Nick Ferraro responded, “I think so. We split our team in two so we didn't have full strength presence at either event. But we had a couple strong appearances out of us and Paul Papoutsis took third in arguably one of the toughest tournaments of the year.”
Paul Papoutis, a third-year, competed in the 174-pound bracket at the Concordia Open, where he started the day 3–0 before losing in the semifinals. He would ultimately claim third place via the consolation bracket. Chicago competes in the Open annually, and third is the highest a Maroon has ever placed, which bodes well for the third-year who will look to compete at a national level.
The Millikin Duals were equally tough, as the South Siders fell to Millikin 41–4 and Truman State 42–7, before emerging victorious against Calumet of St. Joseph 33–18. The Maroons may have been caught off guard by Milikin: The Big Blue brought back their wrestling program this year for the first time since 2008.
Fourth-year Steven Franke won his match against Millikin in a 13–4 major decision, while first-year Mason Williams and second-year Nicholas DiNapoli both won their matches against Truman State. However, these were the only bright spots in the two matches for Chicago, as the South Siders lost the other 17 matches, four by forfeit.
Williams and Franke also won their matches against Calumet, accompanied by first-years Louis DeMarco, Patrick Mulkerin, and Joseph Scheidt as well as second-year Kavan Mulloy. This match was also filled with forfeits; only four of the ten matches actually went to the mats, and one of those four ended in an injury default.
Despite the disappointing results the team is staying positive. “Both events turned out to be pretty tough,” DeMarco said. “Everyone took some losses, but we saw improvement between each match.”
This Maroons’ wrestling team is a young one, with many members still getting acclimated to collegiate wrestling. The 29-man roster has only six fourth-years and four third-years.
Having so many younger wrestlers is a positive for the squad, as the new faces help the team as a whole become better. “Having the freshmen helps with getting more…new styles of wrestling to practice against and really diversifies our team,” Ferraro said.
Despite the tough weekend, DeMarco said the team, especially the first-years, are learning and getting better, “A lot of us are still getting used to wrestling college matches and Coach [Leo] Kocher’s style. Everyone has a positive mindset and is moving in the right direction, though.”
This positive mindset is important, as the season is still young and there is a lot of wrestling left to do.
Chicago will have Thanksgiving break to recover and will return to action December 5 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering Invitational in Milwaukee, WI with the first match starting at 9 a.m.