Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Choinski leads UWO wrestling at tourney

Sophomore Mark Choinski took home the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship for the 157-pound weight class, when the UW Oshkosh wrestling team competed in the 2017 WIAC Championship in Platteville on Friday.

UW-La Crosse took first place in Friday’s match with a score of 160 points, followed by UW-Whitewater with 108 3, UW-Platteville with 97.5, UW-Stevens Point with 97.5, UW-Eau Claire with 89.6 and finally UW Oshkosh with 75 points.

Head coach Efrain Ayala said the championship was a good indication of what his players need to work on moving forward.

“I think we saw a glimpse of what we’re capable of accomplishing,” Ayala said. “We have some young guys right now, immature still, so we’re just still working on it. There’s still some experience that needs to happen. I think we had an overall good experience and an overall great performance for some guys.”

Choinski is just the third UWO WIAC champion since 2001, following Joel Dziedzic (2001 champion at 149 pounds) and Nazar Kulchytskyy (2012 champion at 157 pounds).

Choinski began the day by beating Whitewater’s Scott Schieldt 8-1. He talked about the routine he follows each time he steps onto the mat.

“Before a match I ask myself ‘who wants it more?’” Choinski said. “This always gets my heart pumping because when it comes down to it, I truly believe no one strives for success like myself. Just believing in myself gives me confidence and even more motivation to achieve more than I expected. A lot of the time my toughest opponent is myself. Once I am able to look past any negative thoughts, then nothing can slow me down.”

Choinski advanced to the semi-final round when Platteville’s Dustin Reynolds forfeited in the quarterfinals due to a medical problem.

The sophomore moved to the championship when he beat La Crosse’s Michael Murnane 5-3 in the semi-finals. In the championship round, Choinski captured the victory with a 13-4 defeat over Jackson Schoen from La Crosse.

“As far as his performance goes, I think he’s peaking at the correct time,” Ayala said. “He knows what to expect, and that’s helped him. He has a lot of experience, he’s healthy and he’s had a good game plan this year.”

Kody Azarian took home second place in the 141-pound weight class for the Titans on Friday.

The sophomore received a bye in the first round, but faced off against Eau Claire’s Kyle Eberle in the quarterfinals. Azarian stuck Eberle to the mat in just 1:08.

“In my first match, I pinned the kid right away in the first period,” Azarian said. “I was trying to get team points for us to do well as a team. But, I should have wrestled a longer match and got my moves going early because that transitioned me into being slow in my second match against La Crosse.”

In the semi-finals, Azarian squared off against La Crosse’s Hayden Schlough and won 5-3. Azarian said he was not impressed with his own performance and gave credit to his opponent.

“In the second match, I handled every aspect but did not wrestle to my full ability,” Azarian said. “[Schlough] is a young kid that will be a contender in the next coming years.”

The 141-pound wrestler advanced to the championship where he fell to UW-La Crosse’s Dustin Weinmann 0-13. However, Azarian stayed positive and confident following the match, saying he looks forward to seeing Weinmann again during Nationals in March.

“I knew Weinmann was a good wrestler and a returning All-American,” Azarian said. “I know that he knows how to wrestle, especially in the top position. But, I know, with my athletic ability and mat awareness, I can take him down on my feet and will beat him come Nationals.”

Ayala said wrestling Weinmann was a good feel for Azarian to see what he is capable of doing.

“We knew Dustin,” Ayala said. “He’s been undefeated all season. He’s the No. 1 ranked kid in the country right now. He’s a tough kid, and we knew that we were going to have to stick to a specific game plan if wanted to beat him. We kind of ventured away from the game plan, and when that happens to a tough kid like that, it doesn’t work in your benefit.”

Anthony Senthavisouk grabbed a fourth-place finish in his 125-pound weight class for UWO.

Although the sophomore contributed 8.50 points for the Titans in the championship, he said he is not satisfied with his performances and looks forward to making improvements.

“Even though I placed, it still wasn’t good enough for me,” Senthavisouk said. “I came there to win it, and I fell short of my goals. I definitely wasn’t performing my best. It was just an off day. But I guess that means I need some work, and it’s back to the drawing board. Regionals is coming up, and Nationals will be mine. I’m coming back harder than ever.”

Senthavisouk opened his day with a 12-4 win against Eau Claire’s Zackary Sirn. He went on to defeat UW La Crosse’s Riley Lull 7-5.

In the next round, Senthavisouk beat La Crosse’s Nelson Baker in a 10-8 sudden victory. The 125-pound wrestler said it meant a lot to him to beat his opponent right at the end.

“It actually felt amazing to beat him,” Senthavisouk said. “He was hyped up so much this year, and I finally got to wrestle him and see what he was all about. It was also nice to have my teammates, coaches and family by my mat side cheering me on. It’s what I love about this sport: the adrenaline, the hype and the love that it spreads.”

Ayala gave credit to Senthavisouk for his impressive performance.

“Nelson Baker is a tough kid,” Ayala said. “He’s beat multiple ranked kids. For Anthony to be able to beat him in overtime and wrestle that full match is huge. That is another kid we just saw a glimpse of what he is capable of doing. I think now his confidence is boosted up a little bit.”

Senthavisouk advanced to the third-place match where he lost 2-17 on a tech fall against Whitewater’s Mike Tortorice.

“I honestly didn’t know much about Whitewater’s Mike Tortorice,” Senthavisouk said. “I just knew he was just another person on my hit list. I’ll get him next time.”

Freshman Colten Cashmore at 174 pounds, sophomore Julius Smith at 184 pounds and sophomore Elijah Burdick at 285 pounds each finished in fifth place in their respective weight classes for the Titans.

Next up for UWO is the NCAA Division III West Regional in Moorhead, Minn. on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Ayala said being in a strong conference like the WIAC helps prepare his team for tougher meets.

“We want to get as many guys as we can through to the national tournament,” Ayala said. “We have quite a few guys who are capable of doing it. The WIAC Championships, I mean it’s one of the toughest conferences in the nation, it’s kind of like an iron sharpens iron type of deal. Going into the regional tournament, I think we are going to be well prepared for that.”

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