At this point in a wrestling season, being a little banged up comes with the territory. So the Maroons were right to be concerned about their team’s health heading into an event with the word “Brawl” in the title.
Fifth-ranked UW–Whitewater (14–3) hosted the Border Brawl Saturday, which matched the Maroons against the home squad alongside eighth-ranked UW–Stevens Point (14–4) and Concordia (3–9). When the day was done, the South Siders left a little more banged up than they were when they arrived.
“With the UAA Championships in less than two weeks and the NCAA qualifier two weeks after that, we have to be conscious of the injury status and healing of our wrestlers. Many of our top wrestlers are seeing limited or no action in competition now,” head coach Leo Kocher said. “We are proud of the backups that are stepping in, but the fact is we are not as strong in competition under those circumstances.”
Stevens Point and Whitewater scored 40–6 and 49–3 wins, respectively, over the short-handed Maroons’ lineup, which salvaged a 24–24 tie with Concordia to close the weekend.
Third-year standout Troy Carlson was among the wrestlers taking the weekend off, and the already stretched roster found itself even more strained just minutes into the meet, when Chicago lost fourth-year Zach Matayoshi to injury in the weekend’s first match. The team was forced to forfeit its 125-pound matches, and three more wrestlers were injured in the match.
Forfeiting six matches overall, the Maroons got contributions from some lesser-used wrestlers.
Fourth-year Spencer Burns went 2–0 in the 157-pound weight class, with wins against Stevens Point and Concordia. Second-year heavyweight Ryan Hatten took two wins as well, including a match-tying win in the final contest against Concordia.
“[Hatten] was very tough,” Kocher said. “Ryan was out early with an injury and is coming around. I hope that both he and our other heavyweight, [fourth-year] Tom Nero, are in top form for the end of the season; we need them both.”
While two lopsided losses had the team leaving Whitewater with a bitter taste in their mouths, Kocher said that the weekend can only make his team better for the UAA Championship February 7 and NCAA qualifiers February 21.
“It was a pretty tough day for all of us, but tough days can make tough people,” Kocher said.