Over the weekend, the Maroons returned to Elmhurst College, where they competed just a week ago at the Al Hanke Invitational. Last weekend, there were 11 teams at Elmhurst, and the South Siders didn’t get a chance to take on the home squad. This time, though, they battled the Bluejays in a dual meet. Elmhurst’s team ranks No. 8 in the nation according to InterMat Wrestle, so the Maroons knew it would be a good test of their form.
They started out the meet on fire with a first-period pin by second-year Devan Richter. At 125 pounds and the 2015 UAA Rookie of the Year, Richter recorded his seventh pin of the year. Following Richter’s pin, first-year Louis DeMarco won his match 3–1 at 133 pounds. Newcomer DeMarco has been a consistent force for the squad this year.
However, this 9–0 lead after the first two matches was the largest that Chicago would see that day. Elmhurst rolled through seven of the next eight matches, with the Maroons’ only victory coming from fourth-year Paul Papoutsis. Papoutsis defeated a tough competitor from Elmhurst in a close match that ended in a 6–2 decision.
Tough competition has defined Chicago’s season thus far. With losses in their last three duals and a sixth place finish last week, the Maroons are struggling to find a win. However, scheduling competition like Elmhurst earlier in the year prepares them for the consistently tough UAA championships.
Although the UAA conference only boasts three teams for wrestling–NYU, Case Western, and Chicago–winning the championship certainly comes with bragging rights. Based on NYU’s 6–4 record and Case’s 6–10 status, the Maroons certainly have a chance to make a mark.
Richter commented on this week’s performance, saying, “We learned a lot about the areas we need to improve in, both as a team and as individuals. The coaches realize this and have started addressing our problem areas in the room by emphasizing the technique that we are struggling with.”
Looking forward to the rest of the year, Richter said, “As long as the team gives it their all these next few weeks and tries to correct their mistakes, we should be good to go by the time UAAs roll around.”
With the UAAs fast approaching on February 13, the South Siders have limited opportunities to fine-tune their roster and technique, but the home mat advantage will hopefully provide a boost.
The Maroons look to get back on track and continue their progress at the Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational at Wheaton College on January 29 and 30. The 35-team meet will be a true litmus test for the squad as it quickly heads toward the UAA Championships.