This weekend the University of Chicago wrestling team will head to New York City to take on NYU and Case Western Reserve in the UAA Championships.
The Maroons are 5–3 this season, coming off of a huge win over the No. 25-ranked Augustana Vikings last weekend. Wins by fourth-year Paul Papoutsis and second-year Jason Lynch supplemented standout performances by first-years Grant Morrison, Kahlan Lee-Lermer, Steve Bonsall, and Kyle Peisker. The ability to come out with the advantage in close matches was the deciding factor, allowing individual victories to propel the team to a 21–18 team victory.
Case Western is 2–5 in dual matches this season, and has last year’s UAA Rookie of the Year Brian McNamara on their squad. The more intimidating competition comes from NYU, who is 15–4 on the season as a team, and riding a three-meet win streak. They are last year’s defending championships, and home to last year’s UAA Most Outstanding Wrestler, John Messinger. However, second-year Mason Williams believes that the Maroons have what it takes to improve on last year’s second-place finish and win this year. “We haven't won this tournament since 2011 and it is a very big deal. NYU has had our number the last few years and I think this team has the right people to win. Between all of our great freshman and Jason Lynch, we will score some points,” he said.
Carrying last weekend’s momentum into the UAA meet this weekend will be vital to the team’s success against NYU and Case Western. Third-year Cristen Bublitz says that their game plan is to “wrestle faster and tougher than our opponents,” with the ultimate goal of returning to Hyde Park as this year’s UAA Champions. Bublitz’s individual goals are “pretty simple in the fact that I will go out and wrestle my heart out and beat my opponents.” Bublitz has been battling injury this season, but is excited to get back on the mat this weekend and able to contribute to the success of the team.
The UAA Championships on Sunday represent the last meet for the Maroons before the Regional Championships in two weeks. Williams and Bublitz both emphasized the importance of this meet for getting into top form before Regionals. Said Bublitz on this weekend’s implications, “This weekend is vitally important because it will give us the momentum we need to compete in the regional tournament and send some guys to the NCAA National Meet.”
The Maroons will need to be at their best on Sunday in New York City to compete with their conference opponents. The keys to success lie in their strength in the middleweight match-ups and their ability to be tenacious and grind out victories in close matches. The team’s talented first-years and experienced upperclassmen combine to make the South Siders a fearsome threat for the UAA title. Bublitz says that the team is “determined and ready” to take on the elite competition this weekend.
The meet begins on Sunday at 11 a.m. EST.