The first official day of the wrestling season may be the most challenging. Although the Maroons will face many ranked DIII teams this season, it is safe to say that none will match the prestige of their opponents Saturday.
At the Northwestern Duals, Chicago starts its day against16th-ranked Cornell College before hitting the mats a mere two hours later to take on Northwestern, a team ranked 10th in DI. While Northwestern features top wrestlers up and down its roster, the squad is particularly tough at 141 and 184 with the nation’s top wrestlers in those weight classes. One of the most notable matches of the day will be at 197 when fourth-year Drew Marriot tussles with third-year Mike Tamillow.
Hoping to build off of 2005, Chicago will look to serve the Wildcats and the rest of their opponents a big South Side surprise. Some of the competition will know what’s coming, though, since the Maroons defeated the DII-ranked University of Indianapolis at this event last year.
After going against Cornell and Northwestern in the morning, Chicago will round out its long day of tough competition with the NAIA’s third-ranked Cumberland College. A highlight of the match should be at 165, where fourth-year captain Mike Bishof is slated to face Matt Reis, who took first in a tournament hosted by Cumberlands last weekend.
With several wrestlers, including two fourth-years, relegated to the sidelines, Chicago will put out an already modified lineup. More than one first-year is expected to get a green light, including “Cowboy” Troy Carlson, who could be platooning with second-year Jack Toussaint at 157.
“There’s no doubt about it, this is a hard start to a schedule which never gets easy,” said head coach Leo Kocher. “Wrestling tough teams, while not always fun, puts you in a good spot at the end of the season for UAAs and regionals.”
This dual-meet tournament is also a good way for Chicago to get exposure to top-tier foes without battling it out at a tournament, in which any given wrestler could have as many as seven matches. Against teams like the ones featured in this weekend’s dual meet, every contest takes on the feeling of a tournament finals match, and a win in any of the three showdowns would provide a great spark to start this season.