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

Wrestling places sixth at regionals

UW Oshkosh wrestling took sixth place out of 11 teams at the 2017 NCAA Division III West Regional on Saturday in Moorhead, Minn.

Head coach Efrain Ayala said he is proud of his team’s performances this season.

“Our team did a great job this season in believing in the process and we were able to make some big strides because of it,” Ayala said. “We are still a young team and have a lot of room for improvement.”

The top three finishers in each weight class in Saturday’s meet advanced to nationals, which will take place on March 10 and 11 in La Crosse.

The players who will travel to nationals for the Titans include sophomores Mark Choinski and Kody Azarian, who both placed second in their respective weight classes, 157 and 141.

“I think overall our team wrestled well, but not to its full potential,” Azarian said. “We have a lot of young talent on our team, they just have to open up against their opponent. No matter what, I think we could have qualified five guys at least from our regional.”

Ayala said positive things about Choinski and Azarian’s performances on Saturday and looks forward to preparing his wrestlers for nationals.

“Kody and Mark wrestled very well,” Ayala said. “They both had a game plan and followed it in the semifinals and earned their trip to nationals. Both wrestlers are more than capable of beating the opponents they wrestled in the finals.”

In the 157-pound weight class, Cole Sladek of Concordia College (Minn.) took first place while Choinski finished second. Grant Parker from Augsburg College (Minn.) rounded out the weight class with the third-place finish.

Choinski had a bye in the first round of the tournament. The sophomore defeated UW-Eau Claire’s Connor Hanson in 1:05 via a fall in the quarterfinals.

He advanced to the semifinals where he beat Parker in a 10-2 major decision. In the championship round, Choinski fell to Sladek 17-10.

Choinski said his slow start in the championship match on Saturday is something he is going to have to work on during practice to prepare for nationals.

“I learned a few things from my finals match at regionals,” Choinski said. “I need to open up my lungs before I wrestle so I do not start slow. In my finals match, I was sluggish in the first period and that’s when my opponent scored all of his points. I was able to start coming back in the second period and out-wrestled him in the third period. Unfortunately it was too late.”

The championship loss is what Choinski said is keeping him fired up for March 10.

“Other than winning a national title, I am excited to wrestle with some of the best competitors in the country for my division and weight class,” Choinksi said. “I know that every match I have is going to be a dog fight and I look forward to the challenge.”

In the 141-pound weight class, Augsburg College’s David Flynn clinched the first -place title. Azarian grabbed second place, while Adam Presler of Concordia College finished in third.

Azarian received a bye in the first round of the day. He faced UWEC’s Scott Worlund and won 18-3 over a technical fall.

Azarian advanced to the championship after being victorious in the semifinals by beating Presler 7-4.

In the championship match, the sophomore fell to Flynn in a 7-4 decision.

Azarian said there are things he wishes he would have done differently during the championship match.

“I started out well on my feet, had my fakes going and got him moving and took him down when I needed to, but I just was not offensive enough,” Azarian said. “I should have got a better warm-up before the match and I should have fought a little harder to get off bottom.”

Freshman Aristide Serrano just missed his chance at nationals when he finished fourth place in the 165-pound weight class. Sophomore Anthony Senthavisouk and junior Jonathan Flores both placed fifth in the 125 and 133-pound weight classes. Oshkosh added a sixth-place finish in the 184-pound weight class from sophomore Julius Smith.

Ayala said it is time for Azarian and Choinski to focus in practice before they head to the final matches of their season.

“To do well at the national tournament, you need to have the ability to put multiple seven-minute matches together and be able to bounce back when things don’t go your way; be adaptable,” Ayala said. “This next week and a half we’ll be putting them through many different situations to force them to respond and adapt.”

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