The young Maroon squad traveled out to Wheaton, IL this Saturday to compete against some of the best teams in the country at the Pete Willson Invitational. Chicago had a very impressive day, winning 11 out of 32 teams with 48.5 points scored. UW–Whitewater finished at the top of the list, winning the team title with 132 points scored.
Chicago was led by a pair of second-years, one of whom had arguably the most significant performance of the season. Second-year Devan Richter finished second in the 125-pound bracket, falling to the No. 3 wrestler in the weight class. However, previously in the invitational, Richter fought his way through the bracket and took down the No.1-ranked wrestler in his weight class in the process. Richter pinned the top seed, Lucas Malmberg out of Messiah College, at the 2.43 mark in the first period. Malmberg was ranked No. 1 in the country in the 125-pound weight class at the time and is a two-time NCAA runner-up.
Richter was very proud of his performance in the tournament. “Overall, I am very pleased with my performance this weekend. There was a lot of solid competition at the tournament, and it was great to go up against so many good wrestlers. Beating the number one-ranked wrestler at 125 in Division III wrestling obviously helped make the weekend a huge success,” he said.
Looking forward, Richter said, “It helps boost my motivation and confidence in myself, which is pretty important as this long season gets closer and closer to the end. Would it have been nice to place first? Sure, but you can learn a lot whether you win or lose, and the finals match was definitely a learning experience.”
Another second-year wrestler who found success in the tournament was Nick Ferraro. Ferraro knocked off the sixth-ranked wrestler in his weight class. Ferraro felt confident in his performance and believes that it will give him positive momentum into the end of the season.
“I felt pretty strong about my start to the tournament; I beat the two seed and sixth-ranked wrestler in the country in the first round, so that makes me feel pretty good about how I will wrestle at the regional tournament to qualify for nationals,” he said.
The team as a whole is starting to gear up for the rest of the season. Ferraro wholeheartedly believes that the team has gotten stronger as the year has gone on. “We have been putting in the extra work to finish strong at the end of the season these next few weeks, and it showed when we took 11 out of 32 teams at Wheaton this past weekend without a full lineup; we only wrestled seven weight classes out of the 10 total.”
The Maroons will look to take their positive momentum from this tournament into their next match at Augustana this Friday. Augustana also competed in the Pete Willson Invitational and placed 19th. Chicago will start its match against the Vikings at 7 p.m. in Rock Island.