Wrestlers fight way through elite pack
At the end of a hard-fought day, all that stood between second-year Ben Barnes and the 184-pound title was the best wrestler in the country.
Despite a valiant effort, Barnes fell 6-3 to Elmhurst's Matt Sassolino to earn a second-place finish at Saturday's Concordia Open. Barnes won three bouts to reach the title match, including a 1-0 decision against University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh's Jason Gruszynske.
Barnes was one of five Chicago wrestlers who placed in the tournament. Second-year Alejandro Figueroa finished sixth in the 125-pound weight class, going 3-2. In the 165-pound bracket, second-year Mike Bishof came in unseeded and came out with a third-place finish, winning five of his six bouts, including two pins. At 174 pounds, fifth-seeded second-year Phil Kruzel came in fourth, dropping a 3-1 match to Augustana's Nathan Demus in his final bout, and seventh-seeded fourth-year Dmitry Shuster came in sixth.
"Team-wise, I'm pretty satisfied," Kocher said. "Most of our guys wrestled hard and wrestled up to their ability."
The tournament, which featured four nationally ranked Division III teams, Division II title contender University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers, and six nationally ranked individual wrestlers, was extremely competitive. Half of the nationally ranked fighters failed to win their brackets, and a number of seeded wrestlers were beaten early. Several Maroons were among them, most notably fourth-year Sean Barnes, seeded third in the heavyweight division, and second-year Jason Besse, seeded fourth at 149.
"We had some slips, a few let-downs in key matches. It's not unusual early in the season," Kocher said. "This tournament provided some good feedback for where we are as a team and what we need to work on."
The 26th-ranked Maroons next travel to Wabash (2-3) on Wednesday, December 1.
Men's swimming stays perfect
The men's and women's swimming teams hosted the Grinnell Pioneers Saturday at Ratner. The men (5-0) continued their early season dominance with a 183-106 victory, while the women (2-2-1) fell to Grinnell 115-183.
Despite the loss, second-year Katherine Yang took first place in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events. Fourth-years Erin Lyons and Emily Testa had strong swims themselves, placing first in the 1,000-yard freestyle and 200-yard breaststroke, respectively.
It was a big day for first-years Jason Azares and Dan Maguire of the men's team. Azares set a pool record in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing in 53.12. Azares also took first place in the 200 butterfly (1:59.58) and IM (2:03.48) races, and helped the 200 medley relay team (also including second-year Pat Seastedt, first-year Hiro Hayashi, and fourth-year Northe Saunders) earn top honors with a pool record of 1:40.13.
"Grinnell beat us here last year, so we had some emotional ammunition for winning," men's head coach George Villarreal said. "I think we took care of business."
Villarreal was impressed by his team's performance beyond the victory. He cited the drastic improvement of many of his young swimmers, and he looks forward to the progress they will continue to make.
"Now, the challenge is to stay focused on end-of-quarter academic requirements and our training," Villarreal said. "At this point, it's hard to believe we have come so far so fast, but there are still challenges ahead. I think we'll rise to those challenges."
Chicago swimming resumes competition in winter quarter, hosting Olivet College on January 8.
Performances of the Week
Susie Gutowski (women's basketball): scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Northland in the Midway Classic
Justin Waldie (men's basketball): had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks against St. Mary's in the Midway Classic
Ann Zimo (women's soccer): took over in goal after starter Andrea Przybysz was injured in tournament play at Wheaton and held the Thunder scoreless for the remaining fifty minutes of play
Jason Azares (men's swimming): set a pool record in the 100-yard butterfly, took first place in the 200 butterfly and IM races, and swam the first leg of the winning 200 medley relay