This past weekend, the South Siders participated in the Pete Willson Invitational hosted by Wheaton College. The Maroons were part of a pool of 34 teams from around the region that also included eight nationally ranked programs. The invitational championship went to Messiah College who scored 161 points total, while UChicago placed 12th overall, picking up 57 points along the way.
The South Siders entered eight wrestlers in the highly competitive field and reaped strong results, going a combined 19–12 on the first day of the two-day event. Four of the competitors fought their way to the quarterfinals of their respective brackets, and three were able to earn their place among the remaining competitors set to compete on day two. First-year Grant Morrison started as the No. 7 seed and recorded three wins and a loss on the day, assuring him a spot in the top eight in the 141 lb. weight class. In his first match, Morrison pinned his foe and subsequently won an 11–2 major decision to coast to the quarterfinals. The No. 2 seed was able to counter Morrison’s momentum with a 7–4 victory, but Morrison ultimately picked up another decision in the consolation bracket.
Fellow first-year Kahlan Lee-Lermer, at 149 lbs., attained a 4–1 record as the No. 8 seed in his bracket. Lee-Lermer also pinned his opponent in the first round but suffered a 9–5 defeat in the next. Retribution was quick for the talented rookie, as he won the next three matches consecutively, securing him a top-eight finish regardless of his performance on day two. Classmate Steve Bonsall (157 lbs.) and fourth-year Michael Sepke also guaranteed their top-eight finishes, at sixth and seventh seed respectively, with Bonsall advancing to day two of the invitational along with Morrison and Lee-Lermer.
The first-year trio did not disappoint and carried the Maroons to their respectable 12th place finish in the consolation draw. Morrison led the way, placing fourth overall in his bracket. Drawing on his positive performances from the previous day, he picked up a pair of decision victories to reach the third-place match before falling to the No. 1 seed from Manchester University by major decision.
Lee-Lermer was unlucky to not place higher than seventh, as he painstakingly lost 8–7 to the No. 3 seed, but once again, he quickly bounced back to pin the No. 4 seed in the second period. Bonsall also earned a seventh place finish, losing 9–4 before similarly rebounding in a 5-1 victory.
Asked about the first-year class’s success, Lee-Lermer stated, “The coaches put together a strong recruiting class of guys around the same weight that are able to benefit off each other.” He also credited a medical rehabilitation center called Egoscue, located in Chicago, and the school’s sports psychologist to the class’s accomplishments, saying “Egoscue is an integral part of the wrestling program and the hip drop technique. Additionally, our sports psychologist, Flan, has helped give us the right mindset entering each match.”
The Maroons’ next fixture will take place this Friday, February 3, as the they play host to the Augustana College Vikings.