[img id="77136" align="alignleft"] Wrestling wasted no time in chalking up its first win of 2009, as the Maroons came away from Saturday’s match with Loras with a hard-earned 22–19 victory.
Loras (1–8) fought to put the pressure on Chicago (3–7) early, as the visiting Duhawks held a 13–9 edge after six matches. The Maroons took the lead on a pin by third-year Troy Carlson in the 174-pound match, and fourth-year Justin Lucas wrapped things up with his win in the 197-pound weight class.
“The Iowa Conference is a dominant conference in Division III, so it’s always good to beat a team from that conference,” head coach Leo Kocher said. “When I look at my guys, when I see them winning the close matches, that’s what we want.”
Opening the match with wins at the 125- and 133-pound weight classes, fourth-years Zach Matayoshi and Ben Hart set the tone for Chicago, as the pair of close decisions gave the Maroons the meet’s first six points.
“Their tenacity was a great example of how you win close dual meets in wrestling,” Kocher said.
The Duhawks responded powerfully in the 141-pound match, scoring a major decision over second-year Mason May to bring the score to 6–4, but second-year Matt Hart kept the Maroons in front with a win in the 149-pound contest.
The Duhawks capitalized on the Maroons’ struggles at 157 and 165 pounds, picking up a decision and a pin at those weight classes, where Chicago is a combined 3–15 in nine meets.
Fortunately, though, Carlson, the Maroons’ most reliable wrestler, was to follow.
“He has expectations of going out and dominating his opponent, and he has been,” Kocher said. “Troy goes out there determined to score.”
Ranked fourth in the country at 174, Carlson has lost just once—to the top-ranked wrestler in the nation—and with the meet in the balance, the third-year delivered again.
Needing just 1:52 to secure the pin and six points for his team, Carlson swung the Maroons back into the lead, 15–13. First-year Stephen Hanzlik followed suit, overpowering his opponent en route to four more points.
“Troy Carlson and Steve Hanzlik stepped out on the mat understanding that they needed to score major wins to get us extra points,” Kocher said. “Between the two of them, they collected four bonus points—obviously critical with a three-point margin of victory.”
Lucas clinched Chicago’s victory with a gritty 3–1 win at 197 pounds, making Loras’s pin at 285 too little, too late.
The win comes on the heels of a rough road trip for the Maroons, who went 1–3 during their trip to Las Vegas over the break, and the schedule doesn’t get easier from here, with 13th-ranked Elmhurst (7–1) and fifth-ranked UW–Whitewater (5–3) hosting the Maroons’ next two meets.
“I just feel it’s good when the guys pull together because that’s what we have to do at the UAAs,” Kocher said. “We’re going to have to wrestle with tenacity and pull out wins…. It was not an easy meet; we don’t expect easy meets. We want to be ready to wrestle our best every time we go out, and I thought we did that.”