Against the NYU Violets and the Case Western Spartans, the Maroons nearly managed to take away the crown from the now three-time champions.
The South Siders and Violets both defeated Case, 28–18 and 38–7 respectively, to set-up the championship match. Against NYU, the Maroons ended up fighting to the end, losing by one match for a final score of 21–18.
“Case Western is in a great wrestling state. NYU has also now won three regional championships in a row. Both have talent and good people,” head coach Leo Kocher (M.B.A. ’87) said. “They’re a tough team—that’s why the host team will wrestle the winner last. We’ve had success against Case Western and knew that NYU would be waiting for us. I thought they had put their strongest lineup for this championship.”
Individually, first-year Paul Papoutsis, third-year Adam Wyeth, and fourth-year Jeff Tyburski won both their matches against Case and NYU to take the UAA title for their weight class. Papoutsis was named the UAA Rookie of the Year.
On a match-by-match basis, the Maroons first went up against the Violets. Against the Spartans, whom the Maroons defeated 40–9 last year, the Maroons notched two wins by decision and another by major decision while dropping two matches and forfeiting another two. With the Spartans in the lead and three matches left to wrestle, third-year Mario Palmisano and fourth-years Sam Pennisi and Tyburski delivered the win by notching two pins and a forfeit to defeat Case in the dual matchup 28–18.
NYU beat Case as well to set up a rematch between the Maroons and the Violets, who have faced each other in the championships for the past two years. The Violets have won the matchup both times by one match.
The matchup began at the 184-pound weight class. The Violets won the first match on a 6–1 decision and got by the next match on a 6–5 decision. At 285 pounds, Tyburski recorded a pin to tie the match at 6–6. Fourth-year Jake Schramm, who did not wrestle in the Case match, recorded a win at 125 pounds, followed immediately with a win by Wyeth. At 165 pounds, Papoutsis defeated his opponent to give Chicago an 18–15 lead, though the Maroons were unable to close out, dropping the match 18–21.
“At any rate, everything had to go perfect for us against NYU, and it almost did. They just kind of caught us at one match,” Kocher said. “I thought the team executed very well. I was proud of them. We put together a very strong lineup. Even the guys who got beat; they kept the match close enough. I thought the whole team stepped up, and I was pretty happy with the effort.”
Chicago has now ended its regular season with a total record of 4–10 in duals and runner-up in the UAA Championships.
The Maroons will travel next to Crawfordsville, Indiana, to participate in the NCAA Midwest Regionals on March 1.
“It’s going to be a very tough tournament. Elmhurst and other top-ranked schools will be there. We’re just going to see what we can do in putting people into the Nationals,” Kocher said. “If we look at individuals from each region, there’s a lot of guys represented in the national tournament from the Midwest. I think that we’ll probably have some people. It’s just another opportunity to step up and show what we can do.”