Wrestling seeks 14th UAA title as conference tournament comes to Ratner

The Maroons will try to make it two straight Saturday as Case and NYU come to town for the conference championship tournament.

By Jake Grubman

It would be hard to call the wrestling team anything but dominant when it comes to the UAA Championship: In the past 22 years, Chicago has won 13 team championships.

With the three-team tournament coming to Ratner tomorrow, head coach Leo Kocher has his squad eyeing championship number 14.

“We’ve had a very good run against some competitive teams,” Kocher said. “You’re only as good as your next meet, but I’ve been happy with the way the guys are wrestling right now.”

After sweeping Case and NYU a season ago, the Maroons will try to take home a second straight title and their eighth in the last 10 years, when the tournament returns to Chicago for the first time since 2007.

“It’s nice. You get to wrestle at home every three years,” Kocher said. “The last one the crowd was nice and energetic and really invested. It’s an excellent atmosphere to wrestle at home, and I hope we can deliver.”

NYU, though, would be happy to play spoiler for the Chicago crowd. The Violets have finished first or second each year since 2004, and they return two all-UAA selections from a year ago, including the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler last year, Matt Magill. The third-year captain, who has anchored the 157-pound weight class for NYU, has posted a 12–6 record so far this season, including a signature win over the second-ranked wrestler in the weight class, Augsberg’s Jason Adams.

“It seems that NYU is consistently very competitive at all of their weight classes and want to win UAAs as badly as we do each year,” fourth-year Troy Carlson said.

Nonetheless, Carlson is confident that the Maroons are capable of once again defeating the Violets.

“If we perform to our ability, there is no reason we should not be able to win both duals this weekend,” he said.

For Carlson, the nation’s seventh-ranked wrestler in his weight class, this weekend will be an opportunity to become just the fifth Chicago wrestler to win conference titles all four years. He has won championships at 157 pounds, 165 pounds, and 174 pounds, and this weekend he will be in competition for the 197­-pound title. Third-year Ryan Hatten, an honorable mention on d3wrestling.com’s rankings board, will be looking for his third consecutive UAA championship at the heavyweight spot.

Championship considerations aside, this weekend will also provide a final tune up before the Great Lakes Regional in two weeks.

“A win here is very important because it not only gives us the recognition of being conference champions; it is also a good opportunity to see what corrections we have to make individually for the national qualifier coming up,” Carlson said.

Both Carlson, who qualified for NCAAs last season, and Hatten have a good chance to advance to Nationals on February 20, but first they’ll look to earn one last measure of conference glory.

Another victory would be a good send-off for Carlson and classmate Spencer Burns, who has come on strong for the Maroons at the 165-pound spot, where he will look to capture his first conference title. Carlson, though, said he wasn’t too sentimental heading into this weekend.

“It is a bit sad that these are my last two matches at Ratner,” he said, “but I am certainly not going to dwell on it because there are two very important tournaments after this weekend to focus on.”