After four months on the mats, Chicago is gearing up for the NCAA Midwest Regional to kick-off its postseason. 14 teams, including the Maroons, are vying for a trip to NCAA DIII Championships in Cedar Rapids, IA.
The Maroons are coming off a 1–1 performance at the UAA Championships, which were hosted by the South Siders at the Gerald Ratner Athletic Center here in Hyde Park. In a field of three teams, Chicago was able to comfortably beat Case Western 35–11, but slipped up against NYU in a 22–16 loss, making NYU the 2015–2016 UAA Champions.
Although, they were unable to capture the UAA Championship, the Maroons still placed four wrestlers on the All-UAA team this year. Second-year Devan Richter was named to the team at the 125-pound weight class, joined by first-year Mason Williams in the 141-pound bracket. Second-year Nick Ferraro took the 165-pound UAA spot and lastly, fourth-year Ryan Walsh was the best in the 197-pound weight class.
When asked about the upcoming postseason Richter, who made it to the NCAA Championships in his rookie season, said, “Going into the regional tournament, I feel as though everyone on the team should be confident. Basically every match has been to get ready for regionals. Any losses we've taken throughout the year don't matter anymore.”
Although there are numerous ranked teams in their region, Richter stayed positive when discussing Chicago’s goals. “Our regional tournament is going to be tough. Some people will have to pull off some upsets, but it is possible for us to qualify a lot of guys for Nationals. Even if some of our younger guys don't make it to Nationals, I hope they realize they've still got another three years to improve and reach their goals,” he said.
Ferraro echoed his teammate’s sentiments when he said, “We have arguably the toughest regional in the country, it's not uncommon at all to see one or two people per weight class that make it from our regional to end up placing at nationals.”
This is reflected in the second-year’s own experience. “Personally, my bracket at 165-pounds has six kids ranked ahead of me, and since only the top three wrestlers make it to nationals, I'm going to have to win a few matches that I'm not supposed to win. I know this is the case with a few other weight classes as well, where the top three spots are going to be very competitive in order to qualify,” he said.
First-year, Louis Demarco scored a quick pin 1:05 into his match against Case Western at the UAA Championships in the 133-pound weight class. He said, “I think the team is feeling optimistic about the postseason. Everyone is feeling pretty healthy and we are taking this week to focus on the little things we need to work on as individuals. There is no reason to think we can’t to push multiple guys through to nationals.”
The regional event will be held at Knowling Fieldhouse at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IA on Saturday, February 27 starting at 9 a.m. The top three wrestlers of each weight class head to the NCAA DIII Championships in March, and the Maroons are planning on pulling off some upsets to get there.