For a second time, the Maroons finished in 11th place at this past weekend’s NCAA Midwest Regional. Once again, the competition proved to be tough as the squad only gained a total of 14.0 points. There was one major difference this year, however. Unlike last time, the team was able to leave regionals with an individual win.
First-year Charlie Banaszak took third place overall at 141 pounds, qualifying to move on to the NCAA DIII Championships.
“I was really pleased with how exciting it was and the atmosphere at the event,” Banaszak. “My goal all year has been to qualify for nationals, so I was hoping to place top three in my weight class and thus qualify.”
Banaszak achieved this goal, fighting the whole way through.
He came into the competition as the number four seed. After beating his first opponent 8–2, he fell 2–5 to the number one seed in the semifinals. He was able to rebound quickly in the consolation bracket, though, with an 11–0 win and moved on to compete against the third seed. In this nail biting match, he was able to bring home the win in a close 6–5 finish, taking the third place spot in his weight class.
“The [final] match went into the sixth overtime period, so in addition to being long and exhausting it was extremely close,” Banaszak said.
The competition overall was tough not just for Banaszak, but for the entire squad, as many of the wrestlers from the eleven other teams were already nationally ranked.
“Regionals this past weekend was definitely one of the tougher tournaments we've wrestled in all year,” Banaszak said.
Two other Maroons were able to show strong performances, even without qualifying for the NCAAs.
Third-year Mario Palmisano, starting off as the number eight seed at 197 pounds, lost his first match against the number one seed, but was able to bring Chicago a 5–2 win in his consolation match before losing out 2–3 in his final match. Fourth-year Jeff Tyburski, the number seven seed at 285 pounds, lost his first match of the day, but gained a 3–1 consolation victory before losing his final match in a pin.
These small victories, as well as Banaszak’s larger victory, will only motivate the Maroons all the more as they think about making an even better showing at regionals next year, in addition to providing Banaszak with even more drive to return to regionals.
“It's an amazing feeling qualifying. It's been my goal since I made the starting line-up, and it was so exciting to know how hard I've worked all year to get it and that it all paid off,” Banaszak said. “I feel like I wrestled the best I've wrestled all year, mostly because of the intense practices we had leading up to the tournament.”
Banaszak hopes to keep these practices intense as he heads into his preparation for the NCAAs.
“Going into the NCAA's I'm trying to stay as positive as possible, and work hard at each practice and stay injury free,” Banaszak said.
Banaszak will compete the weekend of March 14th at the NCAA DIII Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.