Squad kicks off season against North Central tonight

By Erik Wong

The University of Chicago wrestling team kicks off its 2015–2016 season today in a battle at North Central. With the first match of the season, the squad looks forward to starting off the season with a victory, but this win will not come easy. The match is against a tough North Central team that the Maroons have fallen to several times in the past few years.

Despite recent losses against the Cardinals, fourth-year Steven Franke, one of the few veterans on the team, recalled upon the University of Chicago’s recent success against teams in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. “We’re coming off two wins over CCIW teams, Augie and Elmhurst, so I’m hoping we can carry that trend over into this season,” he said.

The Maroons acknowledge this recent success, but it is up to them to prove themselves out on the mat. Second-year Nick DiNapoli commented about the first match of the year: “This is an important dual because it sets the tone for the rest of the season, so everyone will be looking to wrestle hard,” which shows the importance of locking down and seizing this first win.

This year, the men are confident that they can start their season off right due to the intense practices the team has had for the last month and the offseason beforehand. The South Siders have worked hard, both on technique and conditioning, and they have remained disciplined throughout the offseason, readying themselves for a successful season ahead.

The Maroons will also need to fill some gaps in their lineup because of the graduation of some starting players. The team looks forward to using several first-years in the first match in order to fill these holes. Look for a possible first collegiate appearance from Mason Williams in the 149-pound weight class, Louis DeMarco in the 125-pound weight class, and Luke Iida in the 149-pound weight class. The team is certainly young, but this will not stop them from stepping up.

“We are coming off a great season, and I expect us to be even better this year and continue to improve in further years,” DiNapoli said, proving the team’s confidence in such a young lineup.

Although the team is calling upon several young members to step up, there are several returning members who look to improve their performances from last year. The Maroons return with second-year Devan Richter, who was the UAA champion in the 125-pound weight class, as well as the UAA Rookie of the Year. Also watch out for second-year Nick Ferraro, who was the UAA champion in the 174-pound weight class.

Two young wrestlers proved themselves last year, and it is up to the next class to prove themselves as well. The action starts tonight at 7 p.m. at North Central in Naperville, Illinois.