Choinski takes fifth at nationals

Billy Piotrowski, Sports Writer

UW Oshkosh junior wrestler Mark Choinski was the lone qualifier in the NCAA National Championship Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio Saturday. Choinski competed in the 157-pound weight class.

This was Choinski’s second straight tournament appearance, earning the honor of two-time All-American. Choinski said he loves the environment and noted how aggressive it can get.

“The best part about the national tournament is the environment,” Choinski said. “The building is packed with all the best competitors around the country ready to go head to head to see who is the top dog.”

Choinski finished fifth in the 157-pound weight class with a tournament record of 4-2, improving on his sixth place finish last season. Head coach Efrain Ayala said that even though Choinski didn’t get a spot on the podium, any improvement on the national stage is a huge accomplishment.

“Anytime you improve at the national tournament from the year before, it’s a success,” Ayala said. “In addition, [Choinski] secured his second All-American status. What impressed me about Mark’s performance was his ability to comeback after a loss and wrestle hard for the win. “

Choinski suffered a close loss in his third match 8-6 to eventual third-place winner Cole Erickson. Choinski was sent to the consolation bracket where he bounced back with wins of 8-6 and 7-2 but was unable to make the trilogy, taking a 2:42 pin against fourth-place finisher Zach Wilhelm.

A few wrestlers made the trip down to Cleveland to watch Choinski compete. Sophomore Colten Cashmore was frustrated he didn’t qualify for nationals this year, but was looking forward to getting back together with his teammates.

“I think what I’m looking forward to most next year is just getting out on the mat again with my team,” Cashmore said. “and welcoming the new guys into the program and proving that Titan wrestling is up and coming.”

The Titans have many returning faces next season, as well as a large crop of new talent. With the team already chomping at the bit to get back on the mat, UWO is looking to come back better than ever next season.