This past weekend, the South Siders featured in two intense matches that came down to the wire against strong programs in Wheaton and Elmhurst. Unfortunately, neither ended in the Maroons’ favor, but the results still bring a lot to be optimistic about.
In the first match against Wheaton College on Friday, the South Siders took the initiative and gained an early 21–6 lead throughout the first five matches. Although Wheaton grabbed the first win through forfeit, Chicago won the next four matches, with two coming from forfeits on Wheaton’s end. Third-year standout Devan Richter made his season debut after coming back from an injury and was able to start where he left off last season. Head coach Leo Kocher had moved Richter up a weight class to 133 lb., as he believed Richter would score crucial points for the team. His strategical choice paid off, as Richter earned a third-period pin.
First-year Steve Bonsall represented the other win, earning a 10–8 decision at 175 lb. However, that was the turning point in the meet, and the Thunder went on to sweep the final five matches. Three decisions and one major decision allowed Wheaton to pull within two points of UChicago, with the score displaying 21–19 going into the heavyweight and final match of the evening. Wheaton second-year Max Gierke was able to claim victory for Wheaton as he defeated second-year Patrick Mulkerin with a first-period fall. At 197 lb., second-year John Jayne gave returning All-American, Wheaton fourth-year Mikey Swider, a good match. The meet moved the Maroons to 4–2 on the season, and the Thunder improved to 5–3.
The South Siders had to rally within 24 hours to play host to Elmhurst College. The storyline then was similar to the previous day. Richter, wrestling in his genuine weight class at 125 lb., got the team off to a great start by pinning his opponent in the first period to give his side a 6–0 lead. The Bluejays came back to win the next two encounters by decision and major decision.
However, first-year Kahlan Lee-Lermer took notice of Richter’s earlier result and matched it with his own first-period pin in two fewer seconds than Richter. Another pair of decision victories elevated Elmhurst to a tight 13–12 lead, but the Maroons would not be disheartened. Third-year Nicholas DiNapoli and second-year Jason Lynch dominated their opponents at 174 lb. and 184 lb., respectively. Both wrestlers earned 16–0 technical falls, with Lynch obtaining his 10th of the season, bringing him into the top five in NCAA DIII in that category.
Trailing 22–13 with two matches to go, Elmhurst secured a technical fall of its own, as well as major decision, and the match was tied up at 22 all. Unfortunately for the Maroons, the Bluejays emerged the victors by tiebreaker, as they had won six of the 10 matches, claiming the better win-loss margin.
The Maroons may receive another chance to face the two schools, as all three of the teams will participate in the 2017 Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational hosted by Wheaton College. The matches will start on Friday at 11 a.m., and the championship and third-place matches will take place on Saturday.