Only a sample of the wrestling team competed at the Great Lakes Regional Saturday, but those who went made the whole team proud.
With four Maroons cracking the top six in individual competition, Chicago grabbed a seventh-place finish in the 15-team tournament. Third-year Ben Hart, second-year Troy Carlson, and rookies Ryan Hatten and David Kniesel paved the way for the squad but all came up short of making the cut for Nationals.
Headlining the day for the team was Hart, who took third place in the 133-pound weight class, the best finish for any Maroon. The fourth-seeded Hart won his first matchup of the day by a decision, but fell in the semifinals to the number-one seed, third-year Travis Lang of Augsburg College.
After suffering a wrenched shoulder against Lang, Hart had to battle to claim his next two bouts. In his final match of the day, Hart squeaked out a 1–0 victory over Concordia College second-year Joe Leacox to take home the bronze.
Along with Hart, two other South Siders placed higher than they were seeded. Heavyweight Hatten made the greatest leap, rising up from seventh to fourth in his class. He notched a 3–1 overtime win in the quarterfinals against Lakeland College second-year Adam Sutter, who was ranked seventh nationally and seeded second for the tournament.
In the semifinals, Hatten fell 10–5 to Elmhurst first-year Mark Corsello and then split a pair of matches in the consolation bracket.
Carlson and Kniesel both took sixth to round out the top finishers for Chicago. Kniesel went 2–3 at 174 pounds, while a separated shoulder cut short Carlson’s hopes for making NCAAs.
After pinning his opponent in the first round, Carlson hurt his shoulder in the semis against top seed Ben Hoover of Maranatha, who is ranked fourth nationally.
Although he tried to wrestle through the injury, Carlson had to settle for medical forfeits against Hoover and his next opponent. The forfeits were a huge blow to the Cary, IL native, who had been poised to qualify for NCAAs. Two opponents Carlson has defeated in the past two weeks will go on to compete at Nationals.
“In general I was pleased with how we competed,” head coach Leo Kocher said. “All of our wrestlers are back next year, and I think that each one could come out of this tournament thinking of wrestling at a nationally competitive level. Getting to Nationals is something that is within their grasp.”