Wrestling drops to 3-3 in dual meets
With parity the rule across Division III wrestling, no one knew quite what to expect from last night's home showdown against North Central. The Maroons were hoping for better results than they got. Chicago lost seven of ten matches and fell to the Cardinal 23-9 on their home floor, dropping to 3-3.
"North Central's not ranked, but they beat a fifth-ranked team at LaCrosse, so they probably should be soon," head coach Leo Kocher said. "There are about 30 teams on any given night that could beat any opponent right now, and there have been all sorts of upsets. You just don't know."
The meet was closer than the final score indicated. Chicago lost by four points or less in five of North Central's individual wins, causing a 15-point swing in team totals.
Heavyweight fourth-year Sean Barnes provided one of several bright spots for Chicago, coming back from a 2-1 deficit in overtime to take a 4-2 decision over David Schultz. The Maroons also got wins out of second-year Anthony Bribriesco at 141 pounds and fourth-year Ai Nguyen at 125 pounds.
"With the way things are looking across the division right now, we just want to be competitive in last few dual meets. We've got a young team, with eight underclassmen starters in our last dual meet, and we're going to end up facing six teams in seven meets who are or who have been nationally ranked," Kocher said.
The 27th-ranked Maroons won two of three over the break. Sean Barnes forced a fall in 34 seconds against Wabash's Brian Rooksberry to help lead Chicago over the Little Giants 25-17 on December 1 in Crawfordsville, and the team earned a split at Dubuque, beating the hometown Spartans 18-16 and falling 26-7 to 12th-ranked Loras.
"We wrestled a number of very close matches against Loras that they came up with."
Chicago also sent six wrestlers to the prestigious Midlands tournament December 29 and 30. The six participating wrestlers went a combined 3-12, but the challenge will pay dividends in the long run.
"Midlands has a lot of Big Ten and Big XII wrestlers. We went there just wanting our guys to compete well against Division I talent, and we did. Our guys benefit from competing at that level," Kocher said.
The next week will be a busy one for the Maroons, who will send all healthy members of the team to tomorrow's Cornell Invite in Mount Vernon, and will face Wheaton on the road Tuesday. They close their dual meet schedule against Elmhurst at Ratner Wednesday.