November 21, 2004

Falls and mistakes take wrestling down at Ratner

A little bad luck and some poor decisions combined to bring down the wrestling team Wednesday night, as 26th-ranked Chicago fell to 23rd-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 30-15.

With the Maroons (1-1) down 9-5 after three matches, second-year Jason Besse appeared to successfully take down senior Ross Babcock, the nation's second-ranked 149-pound wrestler, to take a two-point second period lead. The referee, however, didn't call the move, leaving the two grappling for the points. After a few seconds, Babcock worked his way into control and received two points for the takedown. Besse was unable to take the lead after that questionable call, leaving the team down 12-5 despite its best effort of the night.

"Jason had the guy on the ropes," head coach Leo Kocher said. "That guy's in trouble the next time Jason wrestles him."

Third-year Anthony Bribriesco followed with a good first period himself, outmaneuvering freshman Dustin Fox to work an early lead in the 157-pound weight class. But, halfway through the first period, Bribriesco twisted his knee while executing a takedown and had to forfeit the maximum six points.

Second-year 165-pound Mike Bishof's pin (2:32) in the subsequent match put Chicago back into the meet and stopped the Warhawks' building momentum. Second-year Phil Kruzel followed with a good match early at 174 pounds, but was suddenly reversed by sophomore Adam Moe and pinned only seconds afterward. That quick turn of events all but put the Maroons out of the match for good.

"They were obviously an uneven team. They had some inexperienced people that we should have been able to exploit but that we didn't," Kocher said. "It's a kick in the butt for the team, and sometimes that's good for you."

"It's highly unusual for us to give up two falls, and the injury, of course, is as good as a fall. I felt that both Anthony and Phil were in control of their matches, which is an 18-point swing. Those were two we were really counting on going the other way, but instead we lost max points to put us in the hole."

On Saturday, the wrestling team travels to the Concordia Open in Wisconsin, where competitive 20-wrestler weight classes should give the Maroons some needed work. Most of all, the coaching staff has made it clear that the team should be disciplined, looking to use their own strengths as opposed to playing to an opponent's. A few times on Wednesday, Chicago wrestlers looked for big point plays, forgoing their best moves and styles.

"We're going to have to try to step it up—it was only our second dual match—and I guess we're just not there yet," Kocher said. "We're capable of wrestling much better than we did, and it's not often that I've seen a team fall as short of its ability as it did."