While wrestling got off to a rocky start, excellence has become a standard expectation for its core players as the squad prepares to take on the rest of the UAA in the league showdown that is waiting just around the corner.
Finishing third of seven at the Elmhurst Invite on Saturday, a trio of Maroons grabbed top honors as the team finished 20 points behind tournament champion, Elmhurst College, but continued to show its lineup improvements.
Pacing the team, fourth-year captain Phil Kruzel competed in a small weight class at 165 but won both of his events to extend his undefeated streak that goes all the way back to the first match of the season. Co-captain and classmate Mike Bishof cruised to his 15–8 win in the finals, while second-year Benny Hart at 133 joined the veterans among the top finishers with a 7–1 victory in the finals over UW–Whitewater.
In addition to this consistent group, fourth-year Drew Marriot found himself among the top wrestlers of the invite, claiming second at 197.
In his first day back in competition after an elbow injury, fourth-year 141 Andrew Bribriesco struggled but took fifth place. The good news was that his elbow held up, which will be important heading into UAAs. Similar results came at 184, where fourth-year Ben Barnes failed to place, but second-years Justin Lucas and Jimmy Dooley were there to pick him up with third and sixth place finishes in that class.
Chicago also got a strong performance out of heavyweight second-year Tom Nero, who took third, and first-year Troy Carlson, who took fourth at 157. Anyone who has seen Nero wrestle recognizes that he is consistently getting stronger; if he and Carlson can hit their strides going into UAAs in two weeks, it will be a big boost for the team. Chicago might also get a lift from second-year Zack Matayoshi, who is on the road to recovery after breaking his elbow earlier in the season.
Chicago will wrestle North Central tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Ratner.