Although the rest of the school is just getting back into the swing of assignments, the Maroons are in the busiest part of their season. In the fourth weekend of this seven-week grind they are traveling to Elmhurst, IL for the Elmhurst Invitational this Saturday. This seven-week period of meets and duals stretching from January to mid-February culminates in the UAA Championships hosted by the team.
Last weekend, the South Siders were in Plymouth, WI for the Lakeland Duals and went 1–2 fielding a very young lineup. Their win came easily against the hosts, Lakeland, 40–13. Their tightly contested losses were to St. John’s and Dubuque.
The Maroons are positive and are looking to get back on track this weekend in Elmhurst. At the Lakeland Duals, second-year Nick Ferraro got a pin in the last second of his match. He said, “Last week at Lakeland was encouraging, Dubuque is a nationally ranked team and we wrestled them without a full starting lineup to a pretty close dual, where the last match could have determined winning or losing. So, as a team, we feel confident heading into the meet of the season.”
Ferraro won the invite last year but said this about this year’s tournament: “Last year Paul [Papoutsis] and I won the tournament, but this year there seems to be some tougher competition, so I’m excited for the opportunity to face off against some ranked opponents.” Papoutsis, a third-year, currently leads the team in matches wrestled at 15–6, and was named UAA Rookie of the Year as a first-year.
The absence of a full starting lineup has caused the emergence of well-performing younger wrestlers. An example of a first-year who stepped up this past weekend is Luke Iida. Iida won a technical victory easily at 157 pounds. When asked about Lakeland he said, “I think we didn’t wrestle our best as a team at Lakeland going 1–2 for the day, but I believe that overall our team has been going on an upward trend this past month and improving a lot in terms of our conditioning and our technique. I am looking forward to next week.”
When asked about Elmhurst this coming weekend, he said, “Despite having a team with a lot of freshmen in the starting lineup, I think we can do well at the invite if we wrestle tough, especially with Paul Papoutsis and Nick Ferraro both coming back to the invite as returning individual champions.”
Another young wrestler is second-year Devan Richter, who got the South Siders off to a good start at the Lakeland Duals with an early pin in his match at 125 pounds. Richter provided some insight into the invite when he said, “The Elmhurst tournament is always a good tournament filled with good competition for us. It is a great tournament to go to and gauge how ready we are as a team for the end of the season since the regional tournament is quickly approaching. We may even see some of our competition for regionals at the Elmhurst invite, which can allow us to change up our technique before regionals if need be.”
The Elmhurst Invitational is on Saturday, February 16 at 9 a.m.