The University of Chicago wrestling team continued to dominate on Tuesday night as the Maroons defeated the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 23-16. The dual meet against Whitewater was the last in a whirlwind weekend for the Maroons. Chicago started its road trip in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, competing in the Budd Whitehill Division III Duals on Friday and Saturday, and then traveled to Wheaton College for the dual meet Monday.
Chicago gained honors at the weekend's contests. The Maroons have been ranked 30th in Division III in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association's poll It is the first time that the Chicago squad has been ranked this year.
Additionally, third-year Nick Kehagias was named UAA Athlete of the Week for the first time in his career, based on his performance in the 133-pound weight class at the national duals.
"This past weekend was intense since we were wrestling four days out of five, but we came through with a 3-3 record and tons of mat exposure," said Kehagias.
The Maroon grapplers were in good form against Whitewater, taking wins in six of the ten weight classes. "It was a good win," head wrestling coach Leo Kocher said. He continued, "Wisconsin state schools in general, and Whitewater in particular, have really competitive lineups."
In addition to the Warhawks' strong side, Chicago faced another challenge at the meet with third-year Tim Daly's absence at heavyweight. "I was a little concerned with having to give up six points before the meet started. I felt ideally that if we won six out of nine [matches] we would pretty much be assured of victory," said Kocher.
The Maroon wrestlers notched a victory in every weight class, except the 133, 165, and 184-pound weight classes. The heavyweight match was forfeited to Whitewater. "Ryan [Hlinak, second-year] lost to a guy that had been nationally ranked, 4-3," commented Kocher.
Chicago's time at Wheaton was a little easier, as the Maroons posted a 32-15 victory. "Wheaton on Monday was a considerably weaker opponent," said Kocher. He left four starters at home, which offered some of the nonstarters and younger wrestlers more match experience. Chicago won six weight classes, three of them by forfeit.
The national duals in Pennsylvania featured 20 teams, 11 of which were ranked in the top 30 of Division III. Kocher took 15 wrestlers to the tournament, in which the team competed in four matches over two days. The Maroons lost their first match to Ithaca College, 10-23, and defeated McDaniel College, 28-17. The team lost two starters, first-year Sam Kunkel at 133 and heavyweight Daly, after the first day of competition at the national duals. Daly was injured in the match against McDaniel College, and Kunkel became ill. On Saturday the Maroons barely lost their first match to King's College, 18-19, and were defeated by Messiah College, 18-21.
At the midpoint of the season, injuries have already taken their toll on Chicago. While Kunkel was back in the lineup Tuesday night, Daly will be sitting out this upcoming weekend. As second-year Sean Barnes said, "The team is experiencing some adversity right now, with a couple injuries, but we are still rallying together to win meets."
The next item on the Maroons' agenda is the North Central Invite this weekend in Naperville, Illinois. The tournament will feature 22 teams, two of whom are ranked in the top 25 of Division III. Coe and Manchester Colleges are ranked 18 and 23, respectively. "Olivet College, which defeated us in the first dual [meet] of the year will be there, " said Kocher. "These teams along with host school North Central should be among the highest finishers."
The Maroons will next hit the mat in Henry Crown next Wednesday, January 22, against North Central College.