Four teams were out in full force last weekend, both at home and away, to represent the Maroons of our proud university. Reflecting the recent run of good form, this weekend proved to be one of great performances, as well as results.
In the weekend's greatest triumph, the ninth-ranked University of Chicago wrestling team won the 2002 University Athletic Association championship on Saturday at Henry Crown Field House, taking the title for the second year running and for the eighth time in 15 years. The Maroons defeated Case Western Reserve University and New York University 48-16, and 22-13, respectively, in dual match competition, taking their record to 10-1 in dual meets this season. In a day full of awards for Chicago, third-year Andy Bugajski claimed the UAA's Most Outstanding Wrestler title in the course of defeating 149-pound opponent Zak Kallai of Case Western. First-year Sean Barnes, 197 pounds, was selected the UAA Rookie of the Year. Third-year Bill Kopecky successfully defended his UAA title at 184 pounds, as did second-year Nick Kehagias at 125. Moreover, second-years Dale Burke and Tim Daly topped the UAA at 133 pounds and heavyweight respectively. To crown the perfect season, head coach Leo Kocher and assistants Joe Bochenski, Rick Hepp, and John McGovern were hailed as the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year. The Maroon wrestling team displayed that they possess an embarrassment of riches.
Meanwhile, looking to ride the wind of their historic victory over NYU the game before, the women's basketball team took to the court on Sunday at Henry Crown to face UAA rivals University of Rochester. Determined and confident, they didn't disappoint. In a game that went right to the wire, the Maroons ran out winners by a score of 51- 47 in spectacular fashion. Rochester took the lead for the last time with 3:10 left on the clock, 45-44, as they outscored Chicago on a 9-3 run during a three-minute stretch. At this point, up stepped game winning third-year guard Laura Hebel to convert a three-point play with 2:56 left, paving the way for the Maroon victory. The win was helped in large by Chicago's 8-of-10 free throw conversions while their counterparts could only manage a meager 9-of-17. Hebel finished the game with 16 points, second-year guard Paula Lepka contributed 15, and fourth-year forward Kate Miller netted 11 points. With the win, the Maroons improved to an 8-9 record overall, and 4-3 in UAA play. More important, however, is the fact that the women have now won five of their last six games. Rochester (11-6 overall) fell below .500 in UAA competition (3-4).
The men's basketball team could not match the success of the women, however, as they suffered a 54-51 defeat to Rochester to have their 45-game UAA home winning streak abruptly ended. The winning streak had continued since January of 1996. The Maroons entered the court after halftime with a slender lead of 27-25, but an energetic spell extended their lead to six, 40-34, at the 13:39 mark. But Rochester's Brian Jones (16 points) and Markedo Wisseh (11 points) came off the bench to level the score at 40 with 11:56 remaining. Chicago seemed to have regained their composure as fourth-year forward Jon Poyer returned the lead the Maroon way with a free throw 12 seconds later, but it proved to be the last time the home team would be ahead. In-form Wisseh made a lay-up to turn the tables yet again and give Rochester the lead for good, 42-41, with 10:49 on the clock. The Maroons were out-rebounded 37-24 to deprive them of the win. Third-year forward Derek Reich led the Maroons with a 23 points. The men are now 10-8 overall and 5-2 in the UAA.
Away from the comfort of home support, the indoor track & field athletes traveled to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater invitational on Saturday. Three men were able to post NCAA Division III qualifying records, helping the Maroons place fifth among 13 teams. Second-year Adeoye Mabogunje qualified for the high jump with a 2.08-meter effort, while fourth-year Keith Mastronardi posted a provisional qualifying mark of 14.06 in the triple jump. Second-year Tom Haxton accomplished a similar feat by finishing the 5000-meter run in a time of 14:41.80.
On the women's side, third-year Clarisse Mesa posted a time of 2:25.82 in the 800-meter run to earn fifth place. The women's team placed ninth out of 13 teams.
A hearty congratulations should go out to all the heroic Maroon athletes who have filled us with pride with their efforts this past weekend. May their good run continue for a long time to come.