January 16, 2014

Elmhurst Invitational to showcase full Maroon squad

After winning all three of their matches at the Chicago Duals, Chicago will be heading to Elmhurst, IL to compete in the Elmhurst Invitational.

This invitational, more traditionally known as the Al Hanke Tournament after long-time Elmhurst coach Hanke, typically features eight to nine schools and dozens of wrestlers in every weight class.

“The competition last year was pretty tough,” third-year Will Long said. “There are a lot of respectable teams there including Elmhurst, which is always ranked as one of the top teams in the country.”

Out of the nine teams that participated in the tournament last year, the Maroons claimed third place with 111 points, winning three weight classes, while the host Bluejays won the team championship, garnering five weight classes and earning 127 points in the process. Alma College followed close behind with 126.5 points.

“We’ve always been pretty competitive in this tournament,” head coach Leo Kocher (M.B.A. '87) said. “We like to wrestle in the Al Hanke. It’s local, and we get to involve the entire team, and every member of the squad gets to wrestle.”

Chicago wrestlers who had success last year include second-year Steven Franke (third place, 174 pounds), third-year Mario Palmisano (first place, 197 pounds), Long (second place, 133 pounds), and fourth-years Sam Pennisi and Jeff Tyburski, who both placed third in their weight classes.

“All of our guys have had a fantastic week of practice, so hopefully we can follow through and do very well this weekend. It serves as a great measuring stick to see how prepared we are for UAAs and regionals at the end of the season,” Long said.

The team has been practicing hard, and injured members are slowly recovering as the Maroons use these tournaments to determine their best possible duals lineup for the UAA Championships held less than a month from now.

A series of duals will determine individual championships for each weight class and a team champion of the UAA conference, whose participants include Case, NYU, and Chicago. Last year, the South Siders went 1–1 and placed second among the three teams while NYU went 2–0, winning their overall dual results.

Chicago has high hopes for the upcoming invitational as well as for the future of the team.

“Traditionally, our team has done very well in this tournament, and I expect comparable results this year. We usually start to hit our stride around this time of year, and the freshman especially are beginning to peak,” Long said.

The tournament will get underway at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning in Elmhurst, IL.