The Maroons traveled to Plymouth, WI for the Lakeland Duals this past weekend, where they competed against Lakeland College, the University of Dubuque, and St. John’s University. Chicago (3–7 overall) started the day off strong with a 40–13 win over Lakeland, but later fell to Dubuque and St. John’s by scores of 25–17 and 33–20, respectively.
The Maroons swept the Lakeland Duals last year despite many team members being new to college athletics. An ongoing theme for the squad this season has been its overwhelming youth: 10 members are first-years, and eight of them took on starting roles this Saturday.
Second-year Devan Richter, who had pins against Lakeland and St. John’s and a 10–2 major decision against Dubuque, looks positively at the youth of the team. “In terms of the age of who is on the varsity line-up, we are a very young team compared to others,” he said. “Whether upperclassmen have had to quit due to personal reasons or simply graduated, they have left big gaps for the coach to fill. He is recruiting solid talent across the board and hoping to make them into great wrestlers by the end of their senior year. The fact that the first- and second-years are wrestling a lot just gives them more real experience, myself included, and we should be a very tough team with a lot of seasoned wrestlers two years from now.”
Despite how many underclassmen the currently team looks to, second-year wrestler Cristen Bublitz believes the fourth-years and older wrestlers remain an integral component of the squad.
“The seniors play a huge role within the team. We have an amazing group of upperclassmen that fill the leadership role. They keep us focused on the task at hand both in the practice room and at tournament. [Second-year] Nick Ferraro and [third-year] Paul Papoutsis also play huge roles on the team. They are two of our most experienced wrestlers and are always willing to lend a hand,”Bublitz said.
Ferraro went 2–1 on Saturday, with a pin against Dubuque, a 19–4 technical fall win against St. Johns, and a close 8–5 loss against Lakeland. Papoutsis did not compete this Saturday.
Despite their losses this year, the Maroons have continued to compete. After Dubuque jumped out to a lead after Richter’s match, the South Siders fought back, making a comeback bid that went all the way to the final heavyweight match.
“Every time we go out on the mat for a duel, it gives us the opportunity to see how far we have come from the beginning of the season to now,” Richter said. “Needless to say, comparing our performances from the beginning of the year to now, you can see the improvements between duals, definitely for the better.”
The next meet will take place this Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Elmhurst Invitational.